Connecticut Supporting Families After Welfare Reform Program Sought to Remove Obstacles to Families Keeping Health and Food Stamp Benefits

Although many people leaving welfare under the 1996 federal welfare reform legislation retained eligibility for such programs as Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Food Stamps, studies suggested that from one-half to two-thirds of people leaving welfare were losing these benefits.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) designed a national program, Supporting Families After Welfare Reform: Access to Medicaid, SCHIP and Food Stamps, to remove administrative obstacles that prevent low-income families from securing health and Food Stamp benefits. In January 2000, RWJF's Board of Directors authorized $5.9 million for the program.

From January 2001 through September 2004, staff at the Connecticut Department of Social Services:

  • Analyzed why eligible families were denied eligibility for or terminated from Medicaid or SCHIP benefits.
  • Developed short tests of strategies to improve client notices.
  • Increased client responses to notices by changing the logo on mailings to clients.
  • Incorporated revised notices into the state automated eligibility system.

Key Results

The project accomplished the following:

  • Decreased the percent of cases closed because clients failed to return renewal forms from 25 percent to 17 percent.
  • Revised and field tested the text of 20 client notices and applications.
  • Implemented changes to five of the revised notices based on the results of the field test.