|Detailed Objective: This study examines how new options and waivers designed to increase access to the Food Stamp Program are being implemented and to assess their effects on program operations, cost, and participation. Food Stamp Program options and waivers for States were introduced to increase program access and reduce the reporting burden on working families, while minimizing the potential for payment errors. The options include expanding categorical eligibility, simplifying reporting requirements, and providing transitional benefits. The project examines the use and impact of options and waivers through case studies in four local welfare offices in States that have fully implemented options and waivers. The case studies will include in-depth interviews with food stamp administrators and caseworkers, focus groups with food stamp recipients, and analysis of administrative records. The case studies will look at the actions required to realize the full potential of each option and will examine how the changes affect staff workload, client burden in applying for and using food stamps, administrative costs, and program participation.
Interviews with food stamp administrators and staff will identify their steps for implementing options and waivers and the effects they perceive on application and re-certification processes, staff workloads, program costs, and participation rates. The study will collect administrative data from participating States, including the number of applications, procedural denials, reasons for denials, recertifications, average length of participation, and total number of participants before and during implementation of the options and waivers.