Promoting Employment Retention Among TANF Recipients: Lessons from the GAPS Initiative

Publication Date: December 1, 2000


Interest among policymakers and program operators in services designed to promote employment retention among welfare recipients has increased greatly since the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996. This legislation, which ended Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and created Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), imposed a five-year lifetime limit on cash assistance for most families and stricter work requirements on most able-bodied recipients. The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) implemented TANF in March 1997. As required by the federal legislation, DPW has imposed a five-year limit on TANF receipt and now requires most recipients, after two years of TANF benefits, to work or participate in a work-related activity for at least 25 hours a week.

In response to these policy changes, The Pittsburgh Foundation, in collaboration with the Allegheny County Assistance Office (ACAO) of DPW, developed the GAPS initiative, an employment retention program that consisted of case management and other support services for employed Allegheny County welfare recipients. The program was called “GAPS” because it aimed to help welfare recipients bridge the gap between dependence on welfare and self-sufficiency. This report is the second and final report on the GAPS initiative. It examines how the program operated and how participants fared while enrolled in GAPS.

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