The ACT Time Limits pilot consisted of four features designed to emphasize the temporary nature of cash assistance and the need for participants to obtain work to gain independence: (1) time limits for benefit receipt, (2) transitional Medicaid and child care benefits, (3) changes to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) eligibility rules, and (4) a Personal Responsibility Agreement (PRA); only the first two of these features were tested to determine their effectiveness.
The ACT Time Limits pilot was one of the demonstration projects made possible by Section 1115 waivers to the rules in effect at the time for the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. These Section 1115 waivers allowed states to test new approaches to advance the objectives of the AFDC program. The ACT waiver was one of the last AFDC waivers granted before the implementation of the TANF program.
The primary feature of ACT Time Limits was to enact time limits for the receipt of cash assistance, where TANF recipients were subject to one of three time limits for benefit receipt (12, 24, or 36 months) based on a tiered system that classified participants according to their educational attainment and work history. In addition, pilot participants received transitional Medicaid and child care benefits after reaching time limits for cash assistance receipt.
Pilot participants also were subject to (1) expanded TANF eligibility rules and (2) a requirement to sign a PRA, but this pair of conditions was also true of comparison group participants, so the effectiveness of these two pilot features was not evaluated. The ACT Time Limits pilot did not operate a TANF workforce development program.
The total length of services for ACT Time Limits was two to four years.
ACT Time Limits operated in Bexar County, which includes the San Antonio metropolitan area. The Time Limits program was a part of the ACT demonstration that operated from 1996 through 2002 and that also piloted ACT—Responsibilities, Employment, and Resources (RER) Choices and ACT—RER No Choices.