Launched in 1994, Florida’s pilot Family Transition Program (FTP) was the first welfare reform initiative in which some families reached a time limit on their welfare eligibility and had their benefits canceled. Today, almost all states have welfare time limits (and there is a 60-month lifetime limit on federally funded assistance), although relatively few families have yet reached those limits.
FTP, which operated in Escambia County (including Pensacola) until 1999, limited most families to 24 months of cash welfare assistance in any 60-month period (the least job-ready were limited to 36 months in any 72-month period) and provided a wide array of services and incentives to help welfare recipients find work. Florida’s statewide welfare program incorporates many of the pilot program’s features but differs from it in key ways; thus, the evaluation of FTP did not assess the statewide program.
MDRC evaluated FTP under a contract with the Florida Department of Children and Families. Several thousand welfare applicants and recipients (mostly single mothers) were assigned, at random, to FTP or to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) group, which was subject to the prior welfare rules. FTP’s effects were estimated by comparing how the two groups fared over a four-year period.