Helms School of Government
Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)
child development, family, poverty, TANF, welfare, work participation
Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration
Sturgill, Robert William Jr, "TANF Work Policy Influences on Family Behaviors and Child Development" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4027.
There has been a lack of research on how work participation policies have impacted child development through their influences on family decisions. The purpose of this qualitative research study was to explore the perspectives of families toward TANF work participation policies, discover how those policies have influenced family behaviors, and analyze how those policy-behavior phenomena have impacted child development. First, the literature review showed that families with chronic welfare dependency had negative impacts on child development. The research showed that when TANF work participation policies were unenforced or income limits were too low, some recipients worked less and persisted in welfare dependency. Therefore, TANF policies that discouraged meaningful work and imposed counter-productive income limits increased welfare dependency and had negative impacts on child development. Second, the review showed that single-parent families often had negative impacts on child development. The research showed that some poor parents chose to stay unmarried when TANF work participation policies provided increased benefits to single parents compared to married parents. Therefore, TANF policies that provided increased benefits to single parents resulted in increased single-parent homes and had negative impacts on child development. Third, the review showed that family instability had negative impacts on child development. The research showed that TANF policies have increased family instability when they discouraged home ownership, encouraged single mothers to work and leave their children in multi-family homes with siblings and non-family adult males, and discouraged parental involvement in their children’s education. Therefore, TANF policies that discouraged home ownership and parental involvement have increased family instability and had negative impacts on child development.