Role of Intermediaries in Linking TANF Recipients with Jobs: Final Report. Suwannee County, Florida


Well known for it's famous tune, "Suwannee River", Suwannee County is one of the largest geographic areas in Florida  the region is characterized as very rural with a longstanding agricultural tradition. Suwannee County is one of the smallest rural study sites, with just over 33,000 people living in the area. Suwannee County is average among the study sites with regard to the percentage of female-headed households (11.3 percent) and poverty rate (15.1 percent), although there is a slightly larger minority population (18.6 percent) in Suwannee County and a fewer number of individuals who completed high school (63.8 percent) compared to the other rural sites.

While jobs are available in the area, on average, they pay only slightly above minimum wage, ranging between $6.25 and $6.50 per hour. The main industries in the region include service sector, nursing homes, agriculture, state government, and the state prisons.

Like Jacksonville, the urban site from Florida included in this study, Suwannee County's TANF caseloads have declined, although, not as drastic a drop as in Jacksonville. The number of families receiving cash assistance fell from 615 families in September 1996 to 234 families in July 1999, which represents a 62 percent caseload deduction. Key challenges facing the welfare community include the lack of public transportation, night and weekend child care, the increasing student drop-out rate, low-skilled residents, affordable housing, and a lack of business base.

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