Performance Improvement 2005. The Use of TANF Work-oriented Sanctions in Illinois, New Jersey, and South Carolina


Participation requirements are one of the key elements of welfare reform. These requirements are enforced by reducing or eliminating the welfare grant for noncompliance, known as sanctions. Under contract to ASPE, Mathematica examined the implementation of TANF sanctions in three states, looking at the ways that case managers used sanctions to promote compliance with work requirements. The case studies were supplemented by analysis of administrative and survey data to study the frequency of sanctioning, the characteristics of sanctioned families, and their experiences post-sanction. They found that case managers often exercised discretion in deciding whether and when to initiate a sanction, especially when a client partially met participation requirements. Case manager choices, office procedures and philosophies, client behavior, and case manager workload all affected whether a client would be sanctioned. In general, case managers did not consider it their responsibility to conduct outreach to sanctioned clients; nonetheless, most recipients who were subject to a partial sanction did not proceed to a full-family sanction, and many fully sanctioned recipients returned to welfare after exit. Case managers agreed that the prospect of sanctions was a useful tool to encourage recipients to participate in work activities.

PIC ID: 7909; Agency Sponsor: ASPE-OHSP, Office of Human Services Policy; Federal Contact: Lower-Basch, Elizabeth, 202-690-6808; Performer: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Washington, DC

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