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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Welfare Reform: Outcomes for TANF Recipients with Impairments
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With the enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), the Congress made sweeping changes to federal welfare policy for needy families. PRWORA created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant to states, which emphasizes work and responsibility over dependence on government benefits. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) oversees the TANF block grant program, which provides grants to states totaling up to $16.5 billion each year through September 2002 and requires states to maintain a historical level of state spending on welfare-related programs.

To provide you with information on how people with impairments are faring in the new welfare environment, you asked us to determine: (1) the extent to which recipients with impairments exit TANF, compared with recipients without impairments; and (2) the extent to which people with impairments are employed after leaving TANF, compared with people without impairments. To address both questions, we analyzed self-reported data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), a nationally representative survey. We used a cross section of responses given between July 1997 and July 1999 and relied on definition of impairments developed by Census. This broad definition includes both severe and non-severe physical and mental impairments. (See appendix I for the complete definition of impairments.) Our analyses included both descriptive statistics and multivariate analyses. We also reviewed findings of other studies to supplement the SIPP data. We conducted our work from March to June 2002 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. (GAO)
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