Two distinct features of Pennsylvanias welfare reform initiative set it apart from those of other states and thus created a unique context for the operation of Philadelphias WtW program. First, Pennsylvania has a two-year work-trigger time limit that requires TANF recipients to participate in work-related activities for a minimum of 20 hours a week by the time they have been receiving TANF for two years, or face a full family sanction. In anticipation of the first cohort of TANF recipients to reach this time limit in March 1999, PWDC developed programs, including the WtW programs, to help work-mandatory persons meet this requirement.
Second, in keeping with the states client choice philosophy, the CAO offered work-mandatory clients a broad menu of programs and allowed them to decide where to participate. The city offered at least six work activity programs that would meet the two-year work requirement. In addition to the WtW-funded programs, the Philadelphia CAO administered several TANF-funded programs offering similar services. TANF recipients could choose to enroll in any of the programs, and welfare staff did not usually conduct an assessment or recommend which program to attend. In this context, the TWC and RSC programs were just two options among a wide range of choices available to work-mandatory TANF recipients. Because clients could move easily between the work activity programs the CAO and GPW offered, their outcomes over time may have been affected by services they received from more than one program.