National Evaluation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Final Report. The Well-Being of WtW Enrollees

09/01/2004

The premise underlying the WtW grants program is that hard-to-employ individuals will be less dependent on TANF and their well-being will improve if they obtain jobs. The preceding chapter presented findings that two-thirds or more of WtW enrollees across the study sites obtained jobs sometime during the year following program entry. However, their employment rates were lower during the second year. By the end of that year, fewer than half of enrollees were employed in 8 of the 11 sites. Those who were employed tended to hold jobs that offered slightly higher compensation in the form of wages and fringe benefits than was true the year before. The net result of these trends was that the mean earnings of enrollees two years after program entry were about the same as one year after entry.

WtW enrollees did become less dependent on TANF following program entry; but for most, incomes did not improve to levels that allowed them to escape poverty. As described in Section A of this chapter, rates of TANF receipt by WtW enrollees fell dramatically during the two years after program entry, but enrollees remained highly dependent on assistance from a wide range of government programs. Despite earnings from employment, Section B shows that two years after program entry, two of every three enrollees had household incomes below the poverty threshold. These high poverty rates were not, however, accompanied by high levels of self-reported material distress. Section C reports on two specific hardshipsВ  homelessness and lack of health insuranceВ  experienced by some enrollees. Rates of homelessness were high in several study sites but fell over time. On the other hand, the proportion of enrollees without health insurance coverage increased in most sites as time passed.

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