The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant provides grants to the 50 states, District of Columbia, American Indian tribes, and certain territories with the broad purpose of ameliorating and addressing root causes of childhood economic disadvantage. States may use TANF funds in any way they reasonably calculate could achieve the block grant’s statutory purpose. Some of the flexibility the block grant affords to states, tribes, and territories was used to address the fallout from Hurricane Katrina and the deep economic recession of 2007-2009.
Source: John R. Bowblis, Austin C. Smith, ILR Review, Volume 74 Issue 1, January 2021
From the abstract:
Occupational licensing has grown dramatically in recent years, with more than 25% of the US workforce having a license as of 2008, up from 5% in 1950. Has licensing improved quality or is it simply rent-seeking behavior by incumbent workers? To estimate the impact of increased licensure of social workers in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) on service quality, the authors exploit a federal staffing provision that requires SNFs of a certain size to employ licensed social workers. Using a regression discontinuity design, the authors find that qualified social worker staffing increases by approximately 10%. However, the overall increase in social services staffing is negligible because SNFs primarily meet this requirement in the lowest cost way—substituting qualified social workers for unlicensed social services staff. The authors find no evidence that the increase in licensure improves patient care quality, patient quality of life, or quality of social services provided.
Source: Ammar Farooq, Adriana Kugler, IRL Review, OnlineFirst, Published June 5, 2020
From the abstract:
Using data from the Current Population Survey’s Merged Outgoing Rotation Groups, the authors examine whether greater Medicaid generosity encourages people to switch toward better quality occupations. Exploiting variation in Medicaid eligibility expansions for children across states during the 1990s and early 2000s, they find that a one standard deviation increase in Medicaid infant income thresholds increased the likelihood that working parents move to a new occupation by 1.6 percentage points or 3.3%. Findings show that these effects are larger for those below 150% of the poverty line and for married parents who were not benefiting from Medicaid prior to the expansions. In addition, findings indicate that Medicaid generosity also increased mobility toward occupations with higher average wages and higher educational requirements. This article contributes to the literature on job lock by showing that access to public health insurance not only increases employment and job switches but also encourages occupational upgrading.
Source: Jenna E. Myers, Katherine C. Kellogg, IRL Review, OnlineFirst, Published July 28, 2020
From the abstract:
Using a 20-month qualitative study of four US states that implemented career pathways spanning from high schools to colleges to employers, the authors illustrate the potential for state government actors to facilitate coordination of workforce development systems across geographies and industries. As a complement to explanations situated in workforce intermediary practices or formal state policies, the authors show that state actors can address barriers to coordination by using state actor orchestration—structuring provisional goal setting and revision, encouraging experimentation, and framing coordination to inspire collective action. This approach involves three types of practices: structural (building statewide governance structures and modifying governance processes), political (providing initial direction and piloting and broadening the set of stakeholders), and cultural (identifying key problems and collective action solutions and building social accountability for new roles). These practices vary according to states’ institutional environments: Where governance is more centralized, state actors gain latitude to guide regional workforce development.
From the abstract:
Context: Medicaid expansion has costs and benefits for states. The net impact on a state’s budget is a central concern for policy makers debating implementing this provision of the Affordable Care Act. How large is the state-level fiscal impact of expanding Medicaid, and how should it be estimated?
Methods: We use Michigan as a case study for evaluating the state-level fiscal impact of Medicaid expansion, with particular attention to the importance of macroeconomic feedback effects relative to the more straightforward fiscal effects typically estimated by state budget agencies. We combine projections from the state of Michigan’s House Fiscal Agency with estimates from a proprietary macroeconomic model to project the state fiscal impact of Michigan’s Medicaid expansion through 2021.
Findings: We find that Medicaid expansion in Michigan yields clear fiscal benefits for the state, in the form of savings on other non-Medicaid health programs and increases in revenue from provider taxes and broad-based sales and income taxes through at least 2021. These benefits exceed the state’s costs in every year.
Conclusions: While these results are specific to Michigan’s budget and economy, our methods could in principle be applied in any state where policy makers seek rigorous evidence on the fiscal impact of Medicaid expansion.
From the summary:
To understand what policies and services are already in place for infants and toddlers in care and at risk of entering care, as well as where the child welfare field can leverage the opportunities provided by the Family First Act, Child Trends fielded the 2019 Survey of Child Welfare Agency Policies and Practices for Infants and Toddlers in, or who are Candidates for, Foster Care. The survey, supported by ZERO TO THREE (ZTT) and the Health and Human Services Administration (HRSA), aimed to understand the current array of policies and practices intended to serve this population, and how this array may have shifted since the initial fielding of the survey in 2013. The goal of the survey and report were to identify and share innovations in policy and practice and highlight key challenges that child welfare agencies face in meeting the needs of very young children who have experienced maltreatment. By collecting and sharing such information, we hope to support agencies in strengthening their approaches to serving this population.
With the Family First Act, states have a new opportunity to use federal funds to support children who are at risk of entering foster care (also known as candidates for foster care) and their families. Healthy early development requires stable, nurturing relationships with caregivers (Center on the Developing Child, 2007). For young children who are safe and supported, staying with their families rather than entering foster care is particularly beneficial.
Although the 2019 survey was fielded early in the implementation of the Family First Act, its findings show where states have existing strengths and infrastructure to provide prevention services to families with infants and toddlers. Findings also shed light on where states need to increase their capacity to provide a robust array of services for infants and toddlers who are candidates for foster care, as well as their families.
Source: Lael R. Keiser, Susan M. Miller, Public Administration Review, Volume 80 Issue 1, January/February 2020
From the abstract:
Research indicates that administrative burden influences the behaviors and views of clients and potential clients of government programs. However, administrative burden may also shape mass attitudes toward government programs. Taking a behavioral public administration approach, the authors consider whether and how exposure to information about administrative burden embedded within eligibility‐based programs influences citizen favorability toward those programs. It is hypothesized that if information about the existing screening mechanisms is highlighted and made salient, this will lead to greater approval of eligibility‐based programs. This expectation is evaluated using a survey experiment that explores administrative burden in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The evidence shows that being exposed to information about administrative burden increases favorability toward TANF and its recipients, though these effects are conditional on party identification. The results provide insight into a potential consequence of administrative burden, showing the way in which information regarding burden can shape citizens’ support for eligibility‐based programs.
Evidence for Practice
– Public managers in social welfare programs face challenges in gaining public support because of the stigma associated with these programs.
– The evidence suggests that giving the public information about program screening improves views toward welfare programs.
– Increasing awareness about program screening processes may be beneficial. However, public officials should consider potential trade‐offs, such as discouraging applications.
Source: Ashley M. Fox, Edmund C. Stazyk, Wenhui Feng, Public Administration Review, Volume 80 Issue 1, January/February 2020
From the abstract:
Administrative burden is widely recognized as a barrier to program enrollment, denying legal entitlements to many potentially eligible individuals. Building on recent research in behavioral public administration, this article examines the effect of voluntary state reductions in administrative burden (administrative easing) on Medicaid enrollment rates using differential implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Using a novel data set that includes state‐level data on simplified enrollment and renewal procedures for Medicaid from 2008 to 2017, the authors examine how change in Medicaid enrollment is conditioned by the adoption of rule‐reduction procedures. Findings show that reductions in the administrative burden required to sign up for Medicaid were associated with increased enrollments. Real‐time eligibility and reductions in enrollment burden were particularly impactful at increasing enrollment for both children and adults separate from increases in Medicaid income eligibility thresholds. The results suggest that efforts to ease the cognitive burden of enrolling in entitlement programs can improve take‐up.
Evidence for Practice
– The administrative burden associated with enrolling in social safety net programs in the United States imposes high costs on applicants. As a consequence, many eligible individuals do not receive the benefits that they are lawfully entitled to.
– Insights from behavioral economics, including streamlining of the enrollment process and automated benefit determinations, can be effectively employed—in some cases—to reduce the cognitive burden associated with program enrollment processes and increase take‐up of benefits.
– States that have implemented simple changes to enrollment processes, including administrative verification of income and real‐time decision‐making, have seen greater increases in Medicaid enrollments than those that did not implement such changes.
….After Katrina, homelessness skyrocketed, from about 2,000 people experiencing homelessness in 2005 to nearly 12,000 in 2007, according to Unity of Greater New Orleans (Unity GNO), a nonprofit designated by the federal government to lead the city’s efforts to provide housing and services to the homeless.
But in 2011, the city launched an all-out offensive on homelessness, slashing the number of homeless residents by more than 80%, from close to 6,700 in 2011 to fewer than 1,200 in 2018. Factoring in the city’s efforts to reduce homelessness since 2007, the overall number has been slashed 90%…..
….City officials did it by fighting homelessness on a variety of fronts: They adopted a “housing first” policy: providing homes and services to New Orleans’ neediest, without requiring that they resolve mental health or substance abuse issues first. They expanded a health care clinic for the homeless and started conducting weekly check-ins to connect more people to counseling and other services.
They designated 200 housing vouchers for veterans and set aside 55 units for them in a converted convent. They successfully lobbied Congress for 3,000 extra housing vouchers in 2008. And last year, the city opened a 100-bed, “low-barrier” shelter where people don’t have to be sober to be admitted.
In tackling the problem, the city relied almost exclusively on federal funds, according to Andreanecia Morris, executive director of HousingNOLA, a partnership of city officials, homeless advocates and dozens of nonprofits and public and private organizations…..
From the press release:
The National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) released the first-ever, annual State of the Workforce Report, which includes national workforce data and a state profile of each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.
“There is now a place for you to easily find key labor market information for each state and how their workforce agency is structured,” said Jon Pierpont, NASWA Board President and Executive Director, Utah Department of Workforce Services. “Though every state is different, we all work towards supporting citizens with every opportunity to become self-sustaining. This report shows our uniqueness and amplifies the impact workforce agencies are having throughout the country.”
The 50 state profiles include labor market and unemployment insurance information, an overview of the state’s workforce structure, and individuals served. The report also highlights the uniqueness of every state by promoting the innovations taking place across the country in serving America’s workforce.