Targeted Help for the Hard-to-Employ: Outcomes of Two Philadelphia Welfare-to-Work Programs. TANF Receipt

09/02/2004

WtW programs ultimately sought to help participants move off TANF. Time limits on TANF receipt encouraged participants to leave TANF. At the same time, Pennsylvania offers generous earnings disregards to TANF recipients that would allow WtW participants who became employed to continue to receive TANF up to a certain earnings threshold. Here, we discuss RSC and TWC participants' TANF receipt before and after program entry, as well as the extent to which program participants combined employment and TANF receipt after program entry.

TANF receipt declined steadily. Four quarters before program entry, most RSC and TWC participants received TANF (81 and 89 percent, respectively; Figure II.4). By six quarters after program entry, the rate of TANF receipt among RSC and TWC participants had declined to 49 and 64 percent, respectively. Given that WtW-eligible participants were all long-term TANF recipients, these declines represent a major reduction in TANF receipt, although about half of them continued to receive TANF. Fewer TWC and RSC participants received TANF during all four quarters after program entry (47 and 64 percent, respectively) than received TANF during all four quarters before program entry (70 and 80 percent, respectively; Table II.7).

Figure II.4
Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study:
Rates of TANF Receipt Over Time

Figure II.4  Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study: Rates of TANF Receipt Over Time.

Source: Administrative Data from State of Pennsylvania

Table II.7
Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study:
Consistency of TANF Receipt, Before and After Program Entry
(Percentages, Unless Otherwise Indicated)
  RSC TWC Significance
Four Quarters Before Program Entry
Ever on TANF 92.3 97.6 ***
   On TANF in all four quarters 70.0 80.2 ***
   On TANF in at least one quarter 22.3 17.4 ***
Never employed 7.7 2.4 ***
Four Quarters After Program Entry
Ever on TANF 89.1 68.4 ***
   On TANF in all four quarters 47.3 63.7 ***
   On TANF in at least one quarter 41.8 31.7 ***
Never employed 11.0 4.6 ***
Sample Size 2,338 2,543  
Source: Administrative records data from State of Pennsylvania.
*/**/*** Difference between RSC and TWC estimates is statistically significant at the .10/.05/.01 level, two-tailed test.

TWC participants were more likely to remain on TANF, regardless of their employment status. TWC participants were more likely than RSC participants to combine work with TANF receipt after program entry (Figures II.5 and II.6). Since most TWC participants were placed in transitional jobs that paid minimum wage, the earnings disregard would likely allow them to continue receiving TANF. Over the quarters after program entry, the percentage of TWC participants who combined work and TANF receipt declined, while the percentage of TWC participants who received TANF and did not work increased. As TWC participants completed or dropped out of their transitional jobs, many continued to receive TANF but did not find another job.

Figure II.5
Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study:
RSC-Combination of Work and TANF

Figure II.5 Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study: RSC-Combination of Work and TANF.

Source: Administrative Data from State of Pennsylvania

Figure II.6
Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study:
TWC-Combination of Work and TANF

Figure II.6 Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study: TWC-Combination of Work and TANF.

Source: Administrative Data from State of Pennsylvania

In contrast, RSC participants were more likely to use employment to move off TANF. The percentage of both TWC and RSC participants who worked and did not receive TANF (white portion of bar graphs) increased over time. However, a higher proportion of RSC participants than TWC participants worked and did not receive TANF after program entry. At the same time, the proportion of RSC participants who received TANF and worked declined over time; the proportion who received TANF and did not work remained fairly stable.

Over time, an increasing percentage of TWC and RSC participants neither received TANF nor worked. During the quarters after program entry, the proportion of both TWC and RSC participants not on TANF and not employed increased (black portion of bar graphs). Some of this population may have been living on sources of support, such as supplemental security income, unemployment insurance, saved earnings, or partners' income (Wood and Rangarajan 2003).[10] Others, however, may have been among the least stable, with no formal source of income.

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