Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Katharine Hill


Social Work


Through this research, I sought to better understand how TANF recipients in the post-welfare reform US experience the material hardships of housing instability, unemployment, and phone disconnection. I hypothesized that TANF under-serves its recipients, and needs strengthening to truly alleviate material hardships. I used a systematic review design to strengthen my understanding of these hardships. Systematic reviews seek to answer a specific question by gathering, analyzing, and synthesizing pre-existing research, across different types of studies, related to the question. This review incorporates research found on social work related search engines and research institutes, always involving the population of current and former TANF recipients. I then used an article analysis to compare the themes of different articles on these topics to synthesize all of my findings. My findings include that although TANF does give a modest boost to rates of employment for recipients, especially single mothers, and recipients have lower rates of housing instability and phone disconnection than those who were previously on the program, only a small percentage of eligible families receive TANF services. TANF funding has been continuously cut back over the last two decades, while need for the program since the 2008 recession has only gone up. Meanwhile, states often misuse TANF block grants from the federal government for unrelated expenses, shortchanging recipients. After reviewing this data, I have concluded that TANF fails to address the material hardships of current TANF recipients, fails to create tangible long term gains regarding these material hardships for those who leave the program, and requires extensive changes to increase the housing stability, employment, and utility connection of its current and former recipients. It is recommended the 2 federal government manages how TANF funds are used at the state level, that sanctioning gets explained to recipients to a greater degree, and time limits are expunged from the program.

Included in

Social Work Commons