Shortly before its first TANF families were expected to reach the 60-month lifetime limit on benefits, Ramsey County, Minnesota (St. Paul) implemented the Intensive Integrated Intervention (III) project in an effort to reduce the number of families that would reach that limit without employment or another source of economic support. Through vocational psychological testing, in-home functional needs assessments, and intensive case management services, the county discovered that many long-term TANF recipients face personal and family challenges that severely limit their employment prospects. While some were able to find employment and leave TANF with the help of the county, others were granted time limit extensions or transferred to the SSI program. This brief describes Ramsey County’s approach to identifying and addressing the needs of families nearing the time limit, what the county learned about the families’ circumstances, what they learned about implementing a flexible and individualized service approach, and what the county’s efforts imply with regard to meeting higher work participation rates. The brief is based on executive-style interviews with program staff, in-depth ethnographic interviews with 12 recipients nearing the time limit, review of published documents, and analysis of the assessment information collected by the county as a part of the III project.
Mathematica – When Five Years Is Not Enough: Identifying and Addressing the Needs of Families Nearing the TANF Time Limit in Ramsey County, Minnesota