- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 21, 2002

ANNAPOLIS (AP) Most Marylanders who left public-assistance rolls during the first year of welfare reform remain off the rolls five years later, according to a study by the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
The study presented to a legislative committee Tuesday said most people who returned to welfare did so during the first 18 months after they stopped receiving benefits.
"The results suggest that there may be a critical period immediately following a family's welfare exit for providing services," said the seventh report on "Life After Welfare" presented at a hearing of the Joint Committee on Welfare Reform.
It said food stamps, health care and child care are a key factor in helping people stay off welfare.
The report is based on a random sample of 10,795 families who stopped receiving cash assistance between October 1996 and March 2002.
During that time, the number of people on welfare rolls in Maryland dropped from more than 200,000 to fewer than 80,000. The number plummeted during the first four years, but has now pretty much leveled off.
The study found what the authors called some encouraging news, including the fact that only about 10 percent who have left welfare rolls were forced off because their benefits period had ended and they had not found work.
It also said people who have come off aid rolls recently may be better able to stay off permanently because they have been on welfare a shorter period of time and have better work histories than in the earlier years of welfare reform.
But the report said while employment rates have held steady, it is discouraging that the percentage of former welfare recipients holding jobs does not increase over time.


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