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Public Policy and Administration


Gregory Campbell


The impact of the length of time that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients receive benefits on their path out of poverty is not clear. The purpose of this qualitative study with a phenomenological design was to increase understanding of the comparative experiences of TANF recipients who reached their lifetime limit of 60 or 24 months to determine the impact of time limits on their path out of poverty and the fulfillment of the TANF goal and second purpose. Human capital theory provided the framework for the study. Using a purposive, homogenous sampling method, 6 social service professionals were selected to participate in this study. Only social service professionals who began serving in their role prior to November 1, 2011 were considered for participation because that is the date Kansas first reduced maximum TANF eligibility from 60 months. Data were collected from questionnaires and interviews with these 6 social service professionals. Inductive coding and theme analysis indicated that TANF participation did not reduce the dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage. Although the reduction in the number of lifetime TANF eligibility months resulted in TANF participants being more focused and intentional in following TANF participation guidelines, poverty persisted. Findings may be used to influence Kansas legislators to enact social service policies at the county and local levels to increase financial self-sufficiency for Kansans exiting TANF.

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