Trends in Welfare Programs

State welfare caseloads in 2006 reflected the maturation of policies adopted in response to federal TANF legislation passed 10 years earlier. Caseloads continued to shrink, and many families on welfare received benefits only for the children. Significant shares of adults on welfare were exempt from work requirements due to illness or disability. Some received welfare through a time limit extension, and others were denied assistance because of a sanction. New federal rules requiring states to increase work participation will change the shape of future caseloads. States with large shares of their caseloads exempt from work requirements face the greatest challenge.

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About the Author
Sheila R. Zedlewski is the director of the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C. Her recent work focuses on the safety net for hard to employ parents, food stamp program participation, and trends in work support spending. She has written extensively about the TANF program with a focus on families unable to move from welfare to work.