Evidence Is Insufficient To Support the Administration's Proposed Changes to AFDC Work Programs

HRD-85-92: Published: Aug 27, 1985. Publicly Released: Sep 26, 1985.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reported on the first phase of its review of poverty among female heads of families, focusing on: (1) work programs aimed at poor women with families who receive assistance under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program (AFDC); and (2) the Administration's proposal to change AFDC work programs in fiscal year 1986.

GAO found that: (1) many poor female-headed families rely extensively on AFDC for cash income; (2) the purchasing power of AFDC benefits declined by an estimated 33 percent from 1970 to 1984; and (3) the Administration has proposed a mandatory work program for AFDC recipients for 1986, with participation goals and penalties for states that do not achieve them. GAO also found that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): (1) still does not have adequate information on whether AFDC work programs are effective in moving recipients to unsubsidized jobs, reducing welfare costs, or meeting other goals; and (2) has not addressed problems that have hampered AFDC work program implementation and have limited program participation. In addition, GAO found that, under the proposal: (1) states would pay a greater share of work program costs and would be required to maintain higher levels of program participation; (2) reduced federal funding could cause some states with successful AFDC work programs to change or curtail their activities; (3) reduced federal funding could preclude states from meeting the proposed participation requirements; and (4) it could be more difficult for states to provide assistance under the Job Training Partnership Act to women with severe employability problems. GAO also found that some of the data sources used by the administration to document and support the proposal were outdated, not rigorously evaluated, not applicable to the AFDC population, or not nationally representative.

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