1. Caseloads decreased.
• In State Fiscal Year 1996, before TANF (Temporary Assistance
for Needy Families) was initiated, nearly one hundred eleven thousand
(110,902) Oklahomans received welfare cash assistance every month.
Today’s caseloads are only a third as large with more than
fifty thousand (51,528) fewer children and twenty-five thousand
(25,151) fewer of their parents receiving benefits each month.
2. More families have left TANF for paid
•Around sixty percent (62.1% in FFY1999; 59.4% in FFY 2000)
of Oklahoma families moving off TANF become employed within the
year, up from about half (50.3%) the first year of reform (FFY
3. There has been a slight decrease in
the overall state child poverty rate.
• In 1992, 21.7% of Oklahoma’s children lived
in poverty. Today, only 19.1% are poor.
• However, in 18 Oklahoma counties, the child poverty
rate has increased.
4. There has been a decrease in the rate
of births to young teens (ages 15-17).
• Compared to the mid-1980’s when there were
43.9 births per every 1000 young teens, the most recent three
years on record (1998-2000) show 33.0 births per 1000 young teens.
5. The rate and number of married couples
raising children decreased over the last decade.
• There are 76 divorce petitions granted for every
100 marriage licenses issued in Oklahoma.
6. The rate and number of babies born to
single mothers has increased.
• By 2000, one-third (34.3%) of all Oklahoma births were
to women who were not married. Today, fewer Oklahoma children
(down 9,403) are raised by married couples and more (up 28,505)
live in single parent households than did ten years ago.
7. The income for families leaving welfare
is lower than that of those staying on welfare.
• According to the recently published Self-Sufficiency Standard
for Oklahoma, depending on the size of a family and where it lives,
a wage sufficient to cover basic expenses in Oklahoma starts at
$10.08 an hour. After leaving welfare, an Oklahoma head of a household
earns an average of $7.79 per hour.
8. Families who are on,
or who have recently left, TANF experience food insecurity or
hunger at a rate of nearly 50 percent.
9. Over 40 percent of those families who leave welfare are completely
uninsured, though eligible for Medicaid.
10. Many families who leave welfare are unable to pay for the
necessities of daily life.
• Nearly half are unable to pay rent.
• Almost 70 percent are behind on utility bills.
• Almost half go without a phone.
11. According to national studies, the
adolescent children of families receiving TANF exhibit more negative
behaviors than prior to their parents going to work.
•Adolescents with mothers moving from welfare to work experience
difficulties from increased smoking and drinking to being arrested,
to performing poorly in school.
1. Increase the collection of child support and pass this
money directly to families.
• Good child support enforcement is an effective way
to increase income for low income families.
•Research also shows that child support usually tanslates
into increased parental involvement.
2. Make the requirements more flexible for older relatives
who agree to raise grandchildren on TANF.
•Oklahoma has large numbers of grandparents (62,219) who
have accepted the responsibility of caring for one or more of
their grandchildren. About one-fourth (24.7%) of these grandparent-headed
families live in poverty.
• The job search, training and employment requirements
required for TANF recipients can be a hindrance for poor grandparents
willing to take in their grandchildren.
3. Allow the mothers of infants to stay home for the full
federally allowed time period.
• Oklahoma is one of eighteen states which does not
exempt parents with children under the age of one year from work
• In Oklahoma, every TANF mother of an infant over
the age of three-months must leave home for work, further increasing
the demand for infant child care.
4. Improve the access to and the quality of child care.
• Because mothers are required to work, Oklahoma’s
youngest poor children will spend a large amount of time in child
care. An increasing number of working mothers will have to depend
on child care providers to help their children become ready for
school, learn to get along with others, be creative and feel good
• Oklahoma DHS has created an innovative three-star
rating system to increase the quality of child care. During April
2002, about one-third (33.1%) of the nearly fifty thousand (48,177)
children receiving child care subsidies participated in Two- and
Three-Star child care programs.
5. Invest in teen pregnancy prevention.
• A mother under age twenty is more likely than a woman
who delays childbearing to drop out of school, be less skilled,
have unsteady emplyment and be poor.
• While teen pregnancy has slowed in the state, Oklahoma
still has one of the highest rates of young teen childbearing
in the nation.
6. Increase access to job training and education.