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Federal Formula Grants: Federal Child Care Programs

By Tim Ransdell, Shervin Boloorian

The fast-growing, multibillion dollar federal child care financing system provides resources primarily to low- and moderate-income families to subsidize child care services and activities. With women entering the workforce in record numbers in recent years, government-supported public and private child care networks have come to serve as an economic aid for growing numbers of working families, including federal welfare recipients. Studies monitoring the effect of child care services indicate that the availability of such services can measurably increase the likelihood that a welfare family will successfully transition from government assistance to self-sufficiency.

This report reviews federal child care programs and the formulas used to distribute child care assistance funds to states, discusses California’s child care receipts under the current formula framework, compares the state’s experience to that of other states, and considers the effect of key child care reauthorization proposals in Congress on child care financing policies.


What Happens to Families When They Leave Welfare?

By Thomas E. MaCurdy, Margaret O’Brien-Strain, Grecia Marrufo

More than 1.4 million people left California's welfare rolls between August 1996 and September 2001. Although this dramatic decline in the caseload in the early years following welfare reform was seen by some as heralding the triumph of the new rules, others saw it as an alarm bell regarding the well-being of former welfare recipients. This report presents the findings of telephone surveys conducted in the late 1990s among one-parent and two parent families approximately 6 months and 12 months after they left welfare. The report presents snapshots of how well these families are doing during each of these periods, describing the families' economic security, use of public assistance, and difficulties encountered in maintaining employment and coping with adverse conditions. In addition to comparing circumstances over time, the report also identifies factors that might predict a return to welfare and other poor outcomes for families.


Federal Formula Grants: TANF and Welfare Programs

By Tim Ransdell, Shervin Boloorian

This report reviews the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, pending reauthorization issues, and a number of formula-related aspects of federal welfare laws, with a specific focus on California outcomes.


Unmarried Parents, Fragile Families: New Evidence from Oakland

By Maureen R. Waller

Although welfare legislation and “responsible fatherhood” initiatives seek to promote marriage and strengthen two-parent families, policymakers have little representative data on why unmarried parents in low-income communities do or do not marry.  In Unmarried Parents, Fragile Families: New Evidence from Oakland, Maureen Waller investigates factors that support or impede unmarried parents’ efforts to form stable relationships.  The report analyzes the personal and economic challenges faced by these parents, identifies factors related to the dissolution of their relationships, and considers obstacles to relationship stability among couples that stay together.  Finally, the report tests whether these obstacles were related to the marriage expectations of parents nationwide.


Expensive Children in Poor Families: The Intersection of Childhood Disabilities and Welfare

By Marcia K. Meyers, Henry E. Brady, Eva Y. Seto

Although disabilities affect children of all income groups, poor children are far more likely to suffer from them.  In this study, Marcia K. Meyers, Henry E. Brady, and Eva Y. Seto provide important new estimates of the private costs and public effects of childhood disabilities among welfare recipients.  Based on over 2,000 interviews with household heads in Los Angeles, Alameda, San Joaquin, and San Bernardino Counties, their estimates cover direct expenditures by families and indirect costs due to employment reductions.  They also examine participation rates in public assistance programs and estimate the likelihood that families with disabled children will exit these programs to independence.  They conclude that public assistance may be an essential part of an income-packaging strategy for many of these families.

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