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Student Accountability Initiatives: Learnfare

Learnfare refers to policies in which eligibility for public assistance grants to minor parents or dependents of grant recipients is conditioned upon the minor parent or dependent's attendance and/or progress towards graduation at school. These policies typically require coordination between the state education agency and social services agency.

Why does it matter? Welfare benefits can serve as a meaningful incentive for students to attend school - and for parents to ensure their children attend school.

Highlights:

  • Thirty-eight states have "learnfare" policies.
  • Learnfare policies are most commonly used for minor parents receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) grants.

  • Methodology: This information was collected from state statutes, rules and regulations, and state education agencies, and will be updated as new policies and programs are enacted.

    Sources for all data points are available through this link.

    Last updated: July 30, 2007

    Research conducted by Michael Colasanti. Please contact Jennifer Dounay Zinth at 303.299.3689 or jdounay@ecs.org with comments or questions about this database.

    Learnfare
    Alabama
  • No
  • Alaska
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Applicants for assistance who are under 18 must maintain attendance at high school until they receive a diploma or GED. Cash assistance will be reduced for minor parents who do not satisfy this requirement.
  • American Samoa
    Arizona
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Parents who apply for or receive assistance on behalf of their child, if between six and 16, must ensure that the child is enrolled in and attending school.
  • Arkansas
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: A minor parent applying for or receiving aid must regularly attend school and make satisfactory progress towards completion as a condition of eligibility.
  • California
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: All children under 16 in an assistance unit must regularly attend school or the adults in the assistance unit will not be considered when computing the grant of the family.
  • Colorado
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Families receiving assistance under the Colorado works program who have dependent children must ensure that they are in regular attendance at school.
  • Connecticut
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: A minor parent without a high school diploma or its equivalent, who is not married and has a child who is at least twelve weeks of age is ineligible for temporary family assistance unless such parent is participating in educational activities directed toward the attainment of a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  • Delaware
  • No
  • District of Columbia
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: A pregnant or parenting teen who is unwed and has not completed high school must regularly attend school to be eligible for federally-funded TANF benefits.
  • Florida
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: If a participant's child or if the participant is a teen and is habitually truant or drops out, the state will reduce the temporary cash assistance that is otherwise provided.
  • Georgia
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: A teenager who is included in a parent's TANF grant must attend school or will be removed from the grant the next pay period.
  • Hawaii
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Participants in Hawaii's First-to-Work program who are custodial parents under 20 are required to participate in educational activities to be eligible.
  • Idaho
  • No
  • Illinois
  • No
  • Indiana
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Recipients and children of recipients of assistance from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) must attend school and have less than three unexcused absences if they are of compulsory age or have not graduated from high school or received a GED.
  • Iowa
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Parents who are also a minors and are participating in the Family Investment Program must have their high school diploma or GED, or be enrolled full-time in school to be eligible.
  • Kansas
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Teen parents who are not married and who have not received a high school diploma or GED, or who are not working towards a high school diploma or GED, are not eligible for temporary assistance.
  • Kentucky
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Eligibility for public assistance for needy children is conditioned upon their regular attendance at school.
  • Louisiana
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: To be eligible to receive aid, minor parents without a high school diploma or GED must attend classes designed to obtain a diploma or GED.
  • Maine
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Parents under 20 who are receiving TANF benefits and do not have a high school diploma or GED must participate in the ASPIRE-TANF program and attend classes to complete high school.
  • Maryland
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Children under 19 in the Family Investment Program must be enrolled full time in a secondary school or its equivalent to be eligible for aid.
  • Massachusetts
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: A parent applying for transitional aid for a dependent under 14 must verify that the child is regularly attending school.
  • Michigan
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Minor parents receiving family independence assistance must attend school until completion (receipt of diploma).
  • Minnesota
  • No
  • Mississippi
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: TANF recipients who are under 20 must have a high school diploma or must be working towards a high school diploma. Also, compulsory aged children who are TANF recipients must meet school attendance requirements for continued eligibility.
  • Missouri
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: For children 18 and under, eligibility for TANF is determined, in part, by their continued enrollment in school.
  • Montana
  • No
  • Nebraska
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Cash assistance to families with children under 16 may be reduced if the children do not regularly attend school.
  • Nevada
  • No
  • New Hampshire
  • No
  • New Jersey
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Dependent children who are 16 and older must attend school to continue receiving assistance benefits.
  • New Mexico
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Children between 6 and 17 who are in families receiving cash assistance must be enrolled full-time in school. Failure to do so results in the removal of the student's portion of assistance.
  • New York
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: A child in grades 1 through 6 who is part of a grant of public assistance must attend school and cannot have more than five unexcused absences or the grant will be reduced by $60 for three consecutive months.
  • North Carolina
  • No
  • North Dakota
  • No
  • Ohio
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: A participating student who fails to comply with the attendance requirements two or more times results in a reduction of cash assistance payments.
  • Oklahoma
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Each child in a family receiving TANF between kindergarten age and 18 must attend school. Failure to do so results in a 25% reduction penalty.
  • Oregon
  • No
  • Pennsylvania
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Children between eight and 18 are required to attend school without attendance problems for continued eligibility for aid under AFDC.
  • Puerto Rico
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Children under 18 in a family receiving assistance must attend school to continue to be eligible.
  • Rhode Island
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Parents under 20 who are receiving cash assistance and who do not have a high school diploma or GED must regularly attend a program to obtain a diploma or GED.
  • South Carolina
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Welfare recipients under the age of eighteen must be enrolled and maintain satisfactory attendance, as defined by the department of education, as a condition of eligibility for benefits.
  • South Dakota
  • No
  • Tennessee
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Children in families receiving temporary assistance must attend school (including kindergarten) for continued eligibility.
  • Texas
  • No
  • Utah
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Minor parents who are single and who do not have a high school diploma must attend school 20 hours per week to be eligible for cash assistance.
  • Vermont
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Parents under 18 must attend school or appropriate alternative education activities for eligibility for aid.
  • Virgin Islands
  • No
  • Virginia
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: In order to be eligible for TANF, minor parents must be in compliance with the school's compulsory attendance requirements. Failure to attend will result in the loss of benefits.
  • Washington
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Children under 19 receiving TANF benefits must regularly attend school and must be making satisfactory progress towards completion.
  • West Virginia
  • No
  • Wisconsin
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: All teenagers who have not graduated from high school and are included in an assistance grant must attend school to meet the eligibility requirements.
  • Wyoming
  • Yes
    Notes/Citation: Minors who have completed the eighth grade or who are 16 must attend high school for the family to receive their monthly performance payment.


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