Improving Program Engagement of TANF Families: Understanding Participation and Those with Reported Zero Hours of Participation in Work Activities

OPRE Report 2015-06
Publisher: Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Jan 19, 2015
Michelle K. Derr and Elizabeth Brown

Key Findings

  • The reasons for reported zero hours of participation are complex and difficult to quantify.
  • Many TANF families are engaged in work activities but are not counted because of state reporting practices or difficulties with documenting client participation.
  • Limited state fiscal and staff resources have made it difficult to re-engage those not participating.
  • Because of resource constraints, states appear to focus on the families who, with a small investment, can get a job quickly rather than those who are hard to employ.