This report explores one key dimension of access to public benefits—the application and eligibility determination process. Of particular interest is how local-level administrative procedures and operations may generally affect eligible families’ access to benefits. Special consideration is given to exploring these issues as they relate to immigrants and limited English speakers.
The four major public benefits programs examined in this study are Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), food stamps, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The findings presented are primarily based on site visits conducted between June 2001 and December 2001 in six different localities: New York City (five counties/NY), Dallas (Dallas and Tarrant Counties/TX), Seattle (King County/WA), Raleigh (Wake County/NC), Arlington (Arlington County/VA), and Sedalia (Pettis County/MO). The sites vary in terms of the overall size of their client base and the diversity of the immigrant population, and the way in which application and eligibility determination processes are structured and implemented.