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Journal Issue: The Next Generation of Antipoverty Policies Volume 17 Number 2 Fall 2007

Improving the Safety Net for Single Mothers Who Face Serious Barriers to Work
Rebecca M. Blank


  1. The share of long-term recipients in 2003 is estimated at 40 percent in Michael Wiseman, “Three Views of Welfare Turnover” (George Washington University, 2003). The share of the caseload in long-term spells is 45 percent (based on data from the mid- to late 1990s) in Lashawn Richburg-Hayes and Stephen Freeman, “A Profile of Families Cycling On and Off Welfare,” report from MDRC to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (April 2004).
  2. Michael Wiseman, “Another Look at Turnover,” Research Memorandum, Human Services Policy Division, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (December 2005).
  3. Sheila R. Zedlewski, “Work and Barriers to Work among Welfare Recipients in 2002,” Snapshots of America’s Families 3, no. 3 (Washington: Urban Institute, 2003).
  4. A review of this evidence is in Richard Fording, Sanford F. Schram, and Joe Soss, “Devolution, Discretion, and Local Variation in TANF Sanctioning,” Discussion Paper Series 2006-04 (University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research, February 2006); see also LaDonna Pavetti, Michelle K. Derr, and Heather Hesketh, “Review of Sanction Policies and Research Studies,” report from Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (March 2003).
  5. Lesley J. Turner, Sheldon Danziger, and Kristin Seefeldt, “Failing the Transition from Welfare to Work: Women Chronically Disconnected from Employment and Cash Welfare,” Social Science Quarterly 87, no. 2 (June 2006): 227–49.
  6. See Gregory Acs and Pamela Loprest, Leaving Welfare: Employment and Well-Being of Families That Left Welfare in the Post-Entitlement Era (Kalamazoo, Mich.: W. E. Upjohn Institute, 2004); and Sheila R. Zedlewski and Sandi Nelson, “Families Coping without Earnings or Government Cash Assistance,” Assessing the New Federalism, Occasional Paper 64 (Washington: Urban Institute, 2003).
  7. Papers that discuss these multiple barriers include Sandra K. Danziger and others, “Barriers to the Employment of Welfare Recipients,” in Prosperity for All? The Economic Boom and African Americans, edited by Robert Cherry and William Rogers (New York: Russell Sage, 2000); Robert Moffitt and others, “The Characteristics of Families Remaining on Welfare,” Welfare, Children, and Families Study, Policy Brief 02-2 (Johns Hopkins University, 2002); Matthew Stagner, Katherine Kortenkamp, and Jane Reardon- Anderson, “Work, Income, and Well-Being among Long-Term Welfare Recipients: Findings from a Survey of California’s ‘Precarious Families,’” Assessing the New Federalism, Discussion Paper 02-10 (Washington: Urban Institute, 2002); Kristin S. Seefeldt and Sean M. Orzol, “Watching the Clock Tick: Factors Associated with TANF Accumulation,” National Poverty Center Working Paper Series 04-9, revised (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, May 2005); and Ellen Meara and Richard G. Frank, “Welfare Reform, Work Requirements, and Employment Barriers,” Working Paper 12480 (Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2006).
  8. A particularly good discussion of this issue is in Lisa R. Metsch and Harold Pollack, “Welfare Reform and Substance Abuse,” Milbank Quarterly 83, no. 1 (2005): 65–99.
  9. A good summary of the research literature on health limitations among disadvantaged single mothers is in Mark Nadel, Steve Wamhoff, and Michael Wiseman, “Disability, Welfare Reform, and Supplemental Security Income,” Social Security Bulletin 65, no. 3 (2003–04): 14–30.
  10. A summary of the recent research is in Stephanie Riger, Susan L. Staggs, and Paul Schewe, “Intimate Partner Violence as an Obstacle to Employment among Mothers Affected by Welfare Reform,” Journal of Social Issues 60, no.4 (2004): 801–18.
  11. See the discussion in Margy Waller and Alan Berube, “Timing Out: Long-Term Welfare Caseloads in Large Cities and Counties” (Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, Brookings, September 2002).
  12. Pamela Loprest, “Disconnected Welfare Leavers Face Serious Risks,” Snapshots of America’s Families 3, no. 7 (Washington: Urban Institute, 2003).
  13. LaDonna A. Pavetti and Jacqueline Kauff, “When Five Years Is Not Enough: Identifying and Addressing the Needs of Families Nearing the TANF Time Limit in Ramsey County, Minnesota,” Lessons from the Field (Princeton, N.J.: Mathematica Policy Research, March 2006).
  14. Christopher Jencks, The Homeless (Harvard University Press, 1994).
  15. For more information on these legislative changes, see Center for Best Practices, “The Wait Is Over, the Work Begins: Implementing the New TANF Legislation,” issue brief (National Governors’ Association, June 14, 2006).
  16. Mark Greenberg, “Conference TANF Agreement Requires States to Increase Work Participation by 69 Percent, but New Funding Meets Only a Fraction of New Costs” (Washington: Center for Law and Social Policy, January 11, 2006).
  17. For an excellent discussion of the SSI program, see Mary C. Daly and Richard V. Burkhauser, “The Supplemental Security Income Program,” in Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, edited by Robert A. Moffitt (University of Chicago Press, 2003).
  18. For instance, see David Wittenburg and Pamela J. Loprest, “A More Work-Focused Disability Program? Challenges and Options” (Washington: Urban Institute, November 2003); and U.S. General Accounting Office, “SSA Disability: Other Programs May Provide Lessons for Improving Return-to-Work Efforts,” testimony before the Subcommittee on Social Security, Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives, GAO/T-HEHS-00-151 (January 2001).
  19. Richard V. Burkhauser and Mary C. Daly, “U.S. Disability Policy in a Changing Environment,” Journal of Economic Literature 15, no.1 (Winter 2002): 219.
  20. Sheila Zedlewski and others, “Is There a System Supporting Low-Income Working Families?” Low- Income Working Families Paper 4 (Washington: Urban Institute, February 2006).
  21. Mary Clare Lennon, Juliana Blome, and Kevin English, “Depression and Low-Income Women: Challenges for TANF and Welfare-to-Work Policies and Programs,” report from the National Center for Children in Poverty to the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (March 2001).
  22. Dan Bloom, Cynthia Miller, and Gilda Azurdia, “Early Results from the New York City PRIDE Evaluation,” presentation prepared for the APPAM Fall Research Conference, Madison, Wis., November 2-4, 2006. The PRIDE evaluation is being carried out by a random-assessment methodology.