State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Case Studies: Summary of Innovative Programs Serving People with Low Income

Publication Date: September 2, 2021
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  • Published: 2021

Introduction

The State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Case Studies project is designed to expand the knowledge base on innovative approaches to help people with low income, including TANF recipients, prepare for and engage in work and increase their overall stability. Mathematica and its subcontractor, MEF Associates, were contracted by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to develop descriptive case studies of nine innovative state and local programs. The programs were chosen through a scan of the field and discussions with stakeholders. The case studies can inform TANF practitioners and staff of other programs about innovative practices to support employment. The studies also can expand policymakers’ and researchers’ understanding of programs that support people’s success in work and highlight innovative practices for future research. The project took place from September 2018 through September 2021.

The nine featured programs are:

Purpose

The purpose of each case study is to describe each selected program in detail and highlight its key features: where the program operates; whom the program serves; what services the program provides; how the program is organized and funded; whom the program partners with, and what the partners’ roles are; how the program assesses its performance; and reflections on the program and a look ahead.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • Each program predominantly uses one of four main approaches examined in this study to serve people with low income: (1) providing wraparound supports, (2) providing full-family transitional housing and supports, (3) delivering employment-based interventions, and (4) building collaborative community initiatives.
  • Three different types of entities operate the nine case study programs: (1) community-based organizations operate six programs, (2) government agencies operate two programs, and (3) a center of a state university under contract to a state TANF agency operates one program.
  • The nine programs operate across the United States; six are locally focused, serving a city or county; and three operate statewide.

Methods

The study team looked at different approaches to providing employment-related services to individuals with low income and linking them to wraparound supports, such as child care and transportation. The team identified nine programs that used one of four predominant approaches to serving participants: (1) providing wraparound supports, (2) offering full-family transitional housing and supports, (3) delivering employment-based interventions, and (4) building collective impact and collaborative community initiatives. For each program, the project team made site visits that lasted two to three days, and conducted an average of 15 semi-structured interviews at each site with program leaders, staff providing direct services, and staff from partner agencies. In addition to staff interviews, site visits included in-depth interviews with an average of three participants per program; a review of anonymized cases of an average of two participants per program; and observations of program activities, as appropriate. One site visit was conducted virtually with program staff because of restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Citation

Eddins, K., and J. Lyskawa (2021). “Case study of an employment and training program serving single mothers with low income: Climb Wyoming.” OPRE Report #2021-70, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Eddins, K., and K. Joyce (2021). “Case study of a collaborative approach to improving community-based services for people with low income: Community Caring Collaborative.” OPRE Report #2021-71, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Eddins, K., L. Rosenberg, and S. Rakibullah (2021). “State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Case Studies: Summary of innovative programs serving people with low income.” OPRE Report #2021-125, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Farrell, M., M. Putnam, and L. Rodler (2021). “Case study of an approach for preparing individuals with low income for work: Kentucky Targeted Assessment Program.” OPRE Report #2021-66, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Gaffney, A., and A. Glosser (2021). “Case study of a program serving families experiencing homelessness: Solutions for Change.” OPRE Report #2021-67, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Glosser, A. (2020). “Providing employment and training services during the COVID-19 pandemic: Lessons from the field.” Presentation for the State TANF Case Studies project. Webinar. October 28, 2020.

Jayanthi, A., and A. Glosser (2021). “Case study of a program serving families who are homeless: `Ohana Nui — Family Assessment Centers.” OPRE Report #2021-68, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Ochoa, L., and L. Rosenberg (2021). “Case study of a program addressing participants’ barriers before providing training and other work-related activities: Rhode Island Works.” OPRE Report #2021-65, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Ochoa, L., and P. Holcomb (2021). “Case study of an employment program for youth and services for families: Community Action Organization of Scioto County, Ohio.” OPRE Report #2021-72, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Putnam, M., and L. Rodler (2021). “Case study of a job training, housing, and family support program for young mothers: New Moms.” OPRE Report #2021-69, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Webster, R., and M. Farrell (2021). “Case study of an employment program serving people with low income: Business Link.” OPRE Report #2021-93, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.