Adults on TANF in Washington State

Aug 2010 |
Online Library
Risks and Outcomes for Leavers, Cyclers and Stayers

As part of the 2010 re-examination of the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the Research and Data Analysis Division analyzed risks and outcomes over a five-year period for adults on TANF in state fiscal year 2007. Clients were classified into five distinct groups—quick leavers, slow leavers, low intensity cyclers, high intensity cyclers, and stayers—based on the length of time on TANF and any tendency to cycle on and off the program. Clients in these groups differed markedly in identifiable risk factors and short-term outcomes. For instance, “quick leavers”—those who left TANF fairly quickly and remained off—were more likely to be from two-parent households, to have a high school degree or its equivalent, to have no child younger than 13 years of age, and to experience steady wage growth. Stayers, slow leavers, and high intensity cyclers were more likely to have chronic illness, substance abuse, and mental illness. They were also more likely to be caring for family members with special health care needs and to experience homelessness and family violence. Behavioral health problems—especially substance abuse—were found to be key drivers of homelessness, child welfare involvement, and arrests.

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