The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, provides assistance to millions of low-income American individuals and families to help purchase groceries. As the American economy has improved over the last five years and more Americans have returned to work since the Great Recession of 2008, the monthly average of individuals participating in SNAP has largely declined.

On July 1, 2016, Arizona will become the first state in the nation to limit lifetime welfare benefits to twelve months. How does Arizona compare to other states in terms of placing restrictions on TANF benefit time limits? Here’s a state-by-state overview.

State policymakers hear frequently from employers that they cannot find skilled workers for open positions. Many of these positions are middle-skill jobs that require some form of postsecondary training, but not a bachelor’s degree. This article discusses state strategies to close skill gaps and meet employer skill needs.

Within the next year, Michigan will pilot a program in three counties that will require drug tests for welfare applicants who are suspected of drug use under HB 4118 and SB 275 signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder on Dec. 26, 2014.  

The Michigan law comes on the heels of a federal circuit court ruling declaring unconstitutional a Florida law to drug test applicants for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the federal welfare program known as TANF.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released a 73 page booklet last week detailing preliminary proposals for reducing poverty rates. If Chairman Ryan – who calls the proposals a “discussion draft” – is earnest about his intent to spark conversation he has so far been successful, drawing some predictably positive and negative reviews as well as – most interestingly – pragmatic responses to the policy nuances of his plan. Receiving the most fanfare is Ryan’s plan to delegate safety net planning to the states by combining 11 programs – including SNAP and TANF – into the Opportunity Grant and allowing states to use the money to best serve their constituents.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law a bill to require applicants for cash assistance from the Temporary Aid to Needy Families program – also known as the welfare program called TANF.  House Bill 861 requires that applicants pay for the test. They will be reimbursed if they pass the drug test.  They are denied benefits if they fail the test.

The money-saving argument of supporters of mandatory drug testing for applicants for state assistance programs has been disputed by new data from Florida just reported by the New York Times.  From July through October, 2011, drug testing cost the state $118,140. The small number who failed the test, 108 out of 4,086, and were denied benefits didn’t outweigh the overall tests costs – the program still ended up costing state government $45,780 according to analysis of state data completed by the ACLU in Florida.

Over the past decade, governments at all levels have increased tracking results of government services—from the federal tracking of social benefits to states closely monitoring child protective services to cities filling potholes. No attempt has been made, however, to launch a comprehensive effort to compare state service outcomes in multiple services. This report provides data and analysis of outcome measures in the area of public assistance as part of the State Comparative Performance Measurement Project.

States bear enormous responsibility for administering the nation’s safety net programs. They are the first responders when unemployed workers apply for unemployment benefits, food assis­tance and welfare. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expanded some safety net support, temporarily filling in some of the benefit gaps.

States bear enormous responsibility for administering the nation’s safety net programs. They are the first responders when unemployed workers apply for unemployment benefits, food assistance and welfare. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expanded some safety net support, temporarily filling in some of the benefit gaps.

Congress has failed to act in a timely manner on the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grant. Nonetheless, the next generation of welfare reform is already underway. A slowly growing economy, the end of rapid caseload reductions, massive state and local budget problems, and the constraints of a closed-ended block grant will pose serious constraints on state flexibility and on states’ ability to continue new programs developed under the block grant. At the same time, a larger portion of child-only cases, increased sanction rates, a residual population of longer-term cases and the needs of the working poor will require new programs and more effective services. Although it will be difficult, states have little option but to begin to address these problems without waiting for federal action.

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