Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Achieving Higher TANF Work Participation Rates: Case Studies from Maryland and Utah

Publication Date

This practice brief profiles the multi-pronged, comprehensive approaches taken by Maryland and Utah to increase their state's work participation rates. Both states have more than doubled their state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) work participation rates within a one-year period. Maryland's rate increased from 20.5 percent in FY 2005 to 44.5 percent in FY 2006, and Utah's rate increased from 16 percent in October 2006 to 45.5 percent in October 2007. They accomplished these results through a combination of strategies aimed at increasing the number of TANF recipients engaged in federally countable program activities for the requisite number of hours per week. Both states adopted a universal engagement philosophy, implemented a system that uses program data to monitor program performance and increase participation in work activities, increased their use of work experience and subsidized employment programs, and created solely state-funded programs for subgroups of recipients. In addition, each implemented several strategies not adopted by the other state. Maryland hired designated staff to help counties increase their participation rates, and several larger counties implemented pay-for-performance contracts with their employment service vendors. Utah implemented a transitional benefits program that continues to pay a cash grant to people who have moved into competitive employment, and has overhauled its sanction policies and procedures. This practice brief is one of a series designed to assist state and local officials in thinking about strategies that might aid them in meeting work participation requirements in their TANF programs following enactment of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA). In reauthorizing the TANF program, the DRA resulted in significant increases in the effective work participation rates that states must achieve. [16 PDF pages]

Product Type
Case Study
Low-Income Populations
Location- & Geography-Based Data
State Data
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)