Findings from the Milwaukee TANF Applicant Study
Mark E. Courtney, Amy Dworsky2006
This series of reports covers a longitudinal study of Wisconsin's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Chapin Hall examined the experiences of a representative sample of 1,075 Milwaukee County families that sought assistance from the TANF program between March and August 1999. The reports in this series are based on survey data that were collected at three points in time and administrative data from two state agencies. The reports cover five domains: employment and earnings, income and poverty, economic hardships and food insecurity, barriers to employment, and child welfare services involvement. The picture that they paint is rather sobering. More than four years after they sought help, most of these TANF applicants continued to face significant barriers to employment and, as a result, were not employed consistently. The vast majority of their families still experienced economic hardships and remained poor. Many also had some involvement with the child welfare system. Taken together, these reports indicate that despite significant reductions in Wisconsin's welfare caseload, reform efforts did little to improve the economic well-being of families that applied for assistance. The reports also suggest that if states are to meet more stringent federal work requirements, more attention will need to be paid to helping families balance the demands of work and parenting.