Report on Alternative Outcome Measures: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant . For How Many Hours are Individuals Required to Participate?

12/01/2000

Another critical element in defining participation rates is establishing for how many hours and in what types of activities individuals must participate in the welfare-to-work program each month in order to count toward the rate  that is, to be counted in the numerator of the rate. This section discusses how long individuals are required to participate, while the next section discusses the types of activities required. As discussed below, JOBS and TANF established different rules regarding who is counted as a participant based on the number of hours individuals were required to participate each week (summarized in Table 6).

Table 6
Weekly Hours of Participation Required Under the JOBS and TANF Programs
Hours Per Week Required in the JOBS Program Hours Per Week Required in the TANF Program
  • Scheduled for program activities for an average of 20 hours per week; must attend at least 75 percent of the scheduled hours.
  • Maximum of 20 hours per week required for single parents with child under age six
  • Hours (actual not scheduled) required increases from 20 hours per week in FY 1997 to 25 hours per week in FY 1999 to 30 hours per week in FY 2000 and beyond for overall rate
  • 20 hours per week required for single parents with child under age six
  • 35 hours per week required for two-parent families

In JOBS, to count toward the overall rate, all individuals who could possibly be counted as participants must be scheduled for program activities for an average of 20 hours per week.(7)  To actually be counted as a "participant" these individuals must attend at least 75 percent of their scheduled hours. A parent of a child under age six who is personally providing care to the child can be required to participate only 20 hours per week.

In TANF, for the overall work participation rate, the number of hours (actual not scheduled) required to meet the participation requirement increased from 20 hours per week in FY 1997 to 25 hours per week in FY 1999 to 30 hours per week in FY 2000 and beyond. However, the number of required hours for a single parent with a child younger than six years old remains at 20 hours per week throughout the period covered by the legislation. Hours of participation may be averaged across weeks in a month for any given participant, but may not be averaged across participants.

To qualify as a participant for the two-parent rate, 35 hours of participation are required. This number remains constant throughout the TANF authorization period, but it may be met by a combination of effort between the two parents. However, if a two-parent family is receiving federally funded child care assistance, then the two parents together must meet a 55 hour per week requirement.

States with a prior work program waiver can choose to maintain the hourly requirements established by JOBS or by their waiver (whichever is applicable). Once the waiver expires, these states will be required to meet the hourly requirements established by TANF.