The study reported findings for two cohorts and two types of households. This review focuses on findings for the early cohort of two-parent families; other reviews on this site focus on findings for the early and late cohorts of single parents, respectively. For the early cohort, evaluators randomly assigned families who had received welfare at some time during the year after the program began (between May 1995 and April 1996) to the Welfare Reform or Traditional Welfare group. Most were welfare clients already on welfare when welfare reform began. Indiana's welfare eligibility computer system assigned clients randomly to groups, and caseworkers informed clients of their assignment. New applicants were randomly assigned at the point that they were determined to be eligible for cash assistance.
The early cohort includes all two-parent families who received welfare at some point during the first year of the Welfare Reform program, between May 1995 and April 1996. Evaluators measured impacts during the five years after random assignment, between May 1995 and June 2001.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families
The report did not present detailed characteristics of the evaluation sample of two-parent families, which accounted for about 5 percent of Indiana’s TANF caseload.
Indiana Family and Social Services Administration
The study began at the same time that welfare reform policies were initiated in Indiana.
The Welfare Reform group was subject to new welfare reform policies. Members of this group were required to participate in employment and training services that emphasized job search; faced a 24-month time limit on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) receipt and a provision that held the TANF grant amount constant if a child was born 10 months or more after the family began receiving TANF; and were required to sign a personal responsibility agreement to obtain immunizations for their children, ensure school attendance, and have minor parents on assistance live at home or with a responsible adult. They could face sanctions if they did not participate in work activities for at least 20 hours per week and if they did not uphold the terms of the personal responsibility agreement. This group could also receive work incentives in the form of continued eligibility for Medicaid, child care subsidies, and other supportive services at higher earnings levels; in addition, a policy required the welfare grant amount to remain constant when earnings increased.
The Traditional Welfare group was subject to pre-reform welfare policies. Members of this group were required to participate in work activities but were less likely to be referred to the work component of the state's welfare program. Staff rarely enforced sanctions for noncompliance with work requirements for Traditional Welfare clients. These clients did not face a time limit on TANF receipt or have to sign a personal responsibility agreement.
A subset of the intervention group was mandated to work and could be sanctioned for noncompliance.
Clients in the Welfare Reform group could remain enrolled in TANF for up to 24 months, whereas clients in the Traditional Welfare group were not subject to a time limit.
Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.
The study took place in Indiana and included all eligible families in the state. The policies and services that applied to the Welfare Reform group and the Traditional Welfare group were administered by local offices of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.