We’re Not All Deadbeat Parents: Welfare Recipient Voices on Unmet Service Needs

May 2012

Sandra K. Danziger, Jessica Wiederspan, and J. A. Siegel, University of Michigan

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Studies since the 1996 welfare reform found caseload reductions and little improvements in well being. This paper provides qualitative analysis of program experiences a decade later. From telephone interviews of Michigan recipients, we observed that respondents' identify one of four combinations of needs for services. They highlighted unmet needs for further education, health-related challenges, interim unemployment-related services, or concrete help with cyclical low wage work. The depth and duration of joblessness and hardship of the Recession and recent state-level cutbacks underscore the urgency of client-driven policy guidelines to address the diverse challenges of low income families.

Marriage, Family Formation and Reproductive Issues