Brian Saylor, PhD, MPH
Beth Sirles, PhD
Curtis Lomas, BS
Kate Heitkamp, BS
Stacy L. Smith, MFA
Sanna Doucette, BA
The Division of Public Assistance commissioned the Institute for Health Studies to carry out an evaluation of the Alaska Temporary Assistance Program. This evaluation is made up of two phases: the Leaver Study and the Long-Term Recipient Study.
The Leaver Study, completed in February 2001, examined the characteristics and status of Alaskans who left Alaska's welfare rolls after the July 1997 implementation of the Alaska Temporary Assistance program, Alaska's version of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Studies of this type are underway in many of the states. In general, leaver studies are designed to document the outcomes of families that left the welfare rolls after the states' implementation of welfare reform.
Division of Public Assistance data show that both the Temporary Assistance rolls and the Temporary Assistance budgets have been shrinking since the Fiscal Year 1998 implementation of welfare reform in Alaska. The change to the "welfare-to-work" policy underlying Alaska's welfare reform efforts is generally recognized as a good public policy properly implemented. There is agreement, even among Temporary Assistance beneficiaries, that work is better than welfare. Many former Temporary Assistance recipients are now part of the workforce and appear to be successfully replacing benefits with earnings. They credit the caseworkers of the Division of Public Assistance and its affiliated agencies for helping them make the transition to independence.
The final ATAP Leaver Study report is available in pdf format: Reaching for Independence: A Study of Families that Have Left the Alaska temporary Assistance Program (602 KB, pdf)