Building Better Programs

Using Work-Oriented Sanctions to Increase TANF Program Participation

Sanctions, or financial penalties for noncompliance with program requirements, have long been perceived as a major tool for encouraging TANF recipients who might not be inclined to participate in work activities to do so.  In reauthorizing the TANF program, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) changed the way the work participation rates are calculated and thereby effectively increased the rates required of states.  As states considered their options for meeting the higher work participation rates, they were likely to consider how they might redefine their TANF and separate state programs and make better use of sanction policies and procedures to encourage higher levels of participation in program activities. This report documents how some jurisdictions  responded, in their sanction policies and procedures, to the participation rate requirements imposed by the DRA. It is based on a study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. of sanction policies and practices in eight sites located in seven states.

Mathematica – Using Work-Oriented Sanctions to Increase TANF Program Participation