A Study of Work Participation and Full Engagement Strategies. Activities and the Federal Participation Rate

09/01/2004

In the two study sites that offer the broadest range of activities to all TANF recipients, virtually all recipients are included in the denominator of the federal participation rate, but the majority of recipients are not included in the numerator.(7) As noted previously, the federal TANF legislation specifies 12 activities in which TANF recipients must participate for at least 30 hours per week to be included in the numerator of the federal participation rate. At least 20 of those hours must be spent in at least one of nine core countable activities and up to 10 hours may be spent in three other countable activities. However, administrative data in El Paso County and Utah reveal that a substantial percentage of the caseload in those locales is in activities other than the 12 specified in the legislation  nonfederal activities  or participates in activities for fewer than 30 hours per week. While 95 percent of the caseload in El Paso County and 97 percent of the caseload in Utah is included in the denominator of the federal participation rate, only 20 and 24 percent, respectively, is included in the numerator (see Figure V.6).(8)

Reasons for relatively low federal participation rates extend beyond frequent assignment to nonfederal activities. Many recipients are not included in the numerator because they are participating in specified activities for fewer hours than PRWORA requires. While one-third of recipients not included in the numerator of the federal participation rate are assigned only to nonfederal activities, 53 percent in El Paso County and 46 percent in Utah are assigned to at least some countable activities (see Figure V.7). Among recipients assigned only to core countable activities, only one-third in El Paso County and one-half in Utah are included in the numerator.

Figure V.6.
Federal Participant Rate Status among All Tanf Recipients in El Paso County and Utah

Federal Participant Rate Status among All Tanf Recipients in El Paso County and Utah

Figure V.7.
Types of Recipients Excluded from Numerator in El Paso County and Utah

Types of Recipients Excluded from Numerator in El Paso County and Utah

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