This study collected comprehensive information about application process changes under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and State data systems measuring application events and results. The information is being used to understand how those changes and data systems affect the meaning of applications data and their comparability across States and over time. Major findings include: (1) In most study sites, families who decided not to apply for benefits were no worse off, and often better off, than families who filed for and were receiving TANF benefits. (2) States often differ on how they define and count TANF application events. Some of the biggest differences include how states handle individuals returning to TANF after a recent case closing and how states count applicants who withdraw their application before eligibility can be determined. (3) As the types of benefits funded by the TANF block grant have expanded, many states include counts of applications for benefits other than ongoing TANF cash assistance in their data on applications, but not necessarily in their data on caseloads. (4) States use a variety of codes for application denials and do not always use mutually exclusive reason categories. (5) The differences in the definition and measurement of various application events are large enough to compromise the analysis of application data across states. (6) Changes in which events count as “applications approved” and “applications denied” since welfare reform also compromise the analysis of trends within states. (7) The collection of consistent national data for applications would be difficult.
PIC ID: 8150
Agency Sponsor: ACF-OFA, Office of Family Assistance
Federal Contact: Poe, Dennis, 202- 401-4053
Performer: Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA