Churners: a focus group analysis of the return rate of former rural TANF recipients

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Marson, Stephen M., and Rasby Marlene Powell. “Churners: a focus group analysis of the return rate of former rural TANF recipients.” Policy & Practice of Public Human Services 58.4 (December 2000): 44-49.


Because approximately one-fifth of welfare recipients return to welfare after only one month of self-suffiency, the authors sought to discover the common difficulties faced by repeat clients, termed “churners.” The study they devised consisted of in-depth interviews, conducted by the researchers, with four Robeson County women, aged 22 to 49, who had received TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) in the last three months but also had left the program and then returned to it at least once. The diverse group consisted of two African Americans, one Native American, and one Hispanic. The authors asked participants to rank the difficulties they faced in getting their own and their children's needs met. The article provides the ranked lists of nine difficulties faced by churners and eleven difficulties faced by non-churners who use social services. Churners' top ranked difficulties are discussed in detail; and the authors propose some remedies that social service workers and local governments could implement to alleviate these difficulties. The top difficulties churners faced were: Transportation: the county's public transportation system, participants said, does not run on a regular schedule and does not offer weekend, evening, or holiday service--thus participants' work-related transportation needs are not met.Lack of child support from their children's fathers: participants explained that fathers did not pay child support, or were excused from delinquent child support payments by the courts as part of a plea bargain. Social service workers seemed unreasonable or unbelieving when participants told them they did not know the where abouts of their children's father.Child care: participants felt troubled about leaving their children with DSS-selected day care providers they did not know. They also felt anxiety when their children were sick and they were forced to miss work (and risk being fired).

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TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) | Public transportation | Social services
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