Survey Design for TANF Caseload Project: Summary Report and Recommendations. Rational for Why the Topic Was Chosen

08/28/2002

The evidence from previous research on welfare recipients suggests that children in low-income families may suffer from physical, emotional, and other health problems to a greater extent than children in higher-income families. Children in low-income families are more likely to have been born with low birth weight and to have higher exposure to environmental pollutants such as lead paint, which can put them at greater risk of learning problems, such as developmental delay, learning disabilities, and other conditions. Children with special needs typically require greater attention and specialized care, which could cause difficulty for their mothers in terms of obtaining and keeping steady employment. Most child care providers are not equipped to provide specialized care; even when such services are available, the cost is often higher. Child care providers and schools that accept children with emotional or behavioral conditions may require the mother to unexpectedly take off work to address problems that arise, an issue that many employers of low-wage workers are unwilling to accommodate.

In the WES, 22 percent of respondents indicated they had a child with a health problem that limits the childs activities. This compares with 15.7 percent of all women in the 1994 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). The women reporting this barrier in the WES were significantly less likely to be working 20 or more hours per week. Twenty-two percent of Kern County respondents in the CalWORKS Prevalence Project also reported a child with a health problem that limits the childs activities; however, the rate was lower in Stanislaus County (13 percent). In each county, about one-third of those reporting such a barrier said they had been unable to take a job, school, or training because of having to take care of the child; while 17 percent said they had to quit a work or training situation for the same reason.

Finally, other family situations that could interfere with the respondents ability to find or maintain work involve caring for an elderly or disabled parent or other relative. Nursing home or other special care may be unavailable or unaffordable for low-income families. Little data exist on the prevalence of adult caregiving as a barrier to employment among welfare recipients.

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