Term Paper: TANF and Teenage Mothers

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TANF and Teen Mothers

Will TANF increase the dependency of Teenage Mothers?

The hypothesis for the research will state that TANF will increase lifelong dependency of teem mothers on the system by setting the pattern in their lives. The null hypothesis will state that no significant differences will be found between the lifelong dependency between those that receive TANF for more than three years and teen mothers that never received TANF while pregnant teen mothers. It will examine the question through a survey of teen mothers that received TANF for at least 3 years and teen mothers that did not receive any social assistance at all while pregnant.

In addition to the primary hypothesis, the research will also address several other hypotheses as well. It will examine the hypothesis that more working mothers will be found among those that did not receive TANF and those that did not receive assistance. The null hypothesis will state that no significant difference in number of working mothers that more working mothers will be found among those that did not receive TANF and those that did not receive assistance

For the purposes of this research project, TANF will serve as the independent variable. Whether the mother received TANF for at least three years will serve as the condition that will be applied to the dependent variable. The dependent variable will be the continuance to receive some type of assistance. Another dependent variable will be whether the teen mothers are working at least 30 hours a week to support themselves and their child.

Empirical Status of the Topic

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) is a block grant that was enacted to replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). This section of the welfare code was a part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. In order to qualify for assistance, a minor unmarried, custodial mother must reside with a parent, guardian, or other adult relative. If this is not possible, a teen parent may live in another setting under adult supervision. For some teens, the housing requirement might present a barrier to receiving aid.

The idea behind TANF is that it provides temporary relief to help the young, teen mother get off to a good start with her baby. However, the program has been criticized for several reasons. The first criticism is that the individual states receive the grant from the Federal Government; however, they get to decide how to use the money. In order to receive the grant states must spend some of their own dollars for needy families as well. States also have the ability to decide their own eligibility requirements.

Some states also have "work" requirements that require the person to be employed at least 30 hours per week in order to receive benefits. However, only half of the recipients of TANF need to meet the work requirement in order to receive funds. These differences in application have been the brunt of criticisms over uniform application of the law. No family can receive TANF for more than five years, but this time limit can be extended. The focus of this research will be to determine if the time period that a teen can potentially earn TANF affects their dependency on the system by starting them out on a cycle of dependency. There have been many studies conducted to attempt to determine the effects of TANF as to the effects of increasing dependency on the system. However, these studies relied on statistical data alone for their findings. This research project will differ by using a survey of teen mothers to determine the effects of TANF on their likelihood to remain on some type of public assistance for the long-term.

Search Strategy

In order to explore the status of TANF and its potential effects on teem mothers and Internet Search was used. Opinion based articles from newspaper articles or zines were not considered in this research. Only information from government agencies and academic journals were considered. TANF was enacted in 1996, therefore no articles older than 1995 were used. The search was conducted by searching first for the term "TANF" and then "TANF teen mothers." Of course, the search for "TANF" yielded more results, but the results were general and covered a wide range of topics within the topic such as TANF and geriatrics, and TANF and childcare. The search that included teen mothers yielded more specific results. The top search rankings revealed less than five government reports related to the topic and only a handful of electronic journals. Many of the remainder of articles were newspaper or other mass media citing the few government studies that were found. This has led to the belief that the topic of this research is in need of empirical research.

Literature Review

One of the key findings of the research was that different states call their programs by different names. For instance, Kansas calls their TANF program "Kansas Works." The survey will have to make certain that the correct name is used for the program in relation to the state in which the survey is used, other wise the teens might not indicate the correct answer simply because they do not recognize the name of the program.

Acs and Koball (2003) examined recent data on teen mothers and the impact of TANF on teen pregnancy. Advocates of TANF claim that the residency and strict requirements for teens to receive TANF will reduce the number of teen pregnancies because it poses greater risk. This study found that teen mothers were less likely to receive cash welfare since the implementation of TANF. Teen mothers who resided with parents were also found to be less likely to use marijuana than teens that did not live with their parents. This was another side effect of TANF found in this study.

Kaestner, Korenman, and O'Neill (2003) found that teen pregnancies of pregnant teen girls increased from 3.5 to 3.7%. This research used statistics before the reforms and after the reforms for comparison. This study used statistics alone to draw their conclusions. However, it cannot be determined from their study methods whether this increase could be attributed to TANF or whether there were other variables present that could have affected the rising rates of teen pregnancy. Another study reported declines in the number of teen parents receiving assistance. However, this research was only based on intake numbers of TANF recipients. It does not reflect true teen pregnancy rates, as it is not known how many pregnant teens were turned away as a result of ineligibility under the new rules.

Shapiro and Marcy (2002) studied the barriers to receiving assistance for teen parents. They found that a large number of teen parents have trouble accessing the assistance that they need. Furthermore, they found that this assistance is a key factor in success for those mothers that do meet eligibility requirements to receive it. The most commonly cited reasons for having their TANF cut off or reduced was missing appointments or missing school. There are many reasons why this might occur. They might have reasons ranging from childcare problems, to health problems to transportation problems. This study is important to the body of research as a whole because it indicates that the previous studies might have important flaws in their statistics. This could account for the discrepancy found among these studies.

The Center for Impact Research conducted a survey of teen mothers and found that many teen mothers were told by the TANF office that they were ineligible. These teens left without ever filling out an application. Those that were not receiving TANF were in need of education and employment. This study, along with others in the literature review indicate that the TANF program is not working as planned.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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