The Cliff Effect report is an extension of “Losing Ground,” the I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS report released in January 2013 and published and broadcast statewide by more than two dozen media sources.

Perhaps the most important of the welfare reform measures passed by Congress 17 years ago doesn’t serve three-fourths of working poor families in Colorado, according to an I-News analysis of state data, census figures and Colorado-specific research reports, as well as interviews with benefit recipients, policy experts and government officials.

And among those who do receive child care assistance, their chances of escaping poverty and achieving self-sufficiency – the golden miter of welfare reform – aren’t good, either. Those closest to escaping poverty face the perils of the “cliff effect,” in which even a modest increase in family income can lead to the elimination of a benefit worth thousands of dollars.

The analysis also shows that Colorado’s local control system of determining child care eligibility limits can be wildly inequitable, depending on where one lives.

Losing Ground: the Cliff Effect

The “Cliff Effect” Thwarts the Working Poor

Last Updated by Jim Trotter on

One stated goal of the welfare reforms of 1996 was to encourage people to enter the workforce. Once there, new work support programs would enable low-income families to rise toward self-sufficiency

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Colorado county eligibility limits for childcare assistance

Last Updated by Burt Hubbard on

Income eligibility limits for Colorado Child Care Assistance in the state’s largest counties.

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Self-sufficiency: An illusive vision

Last Updated by Burt Hubbard on

The measures passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 “to end welfare as we know it” were heralded as a ticket to economic self-sufficiency. The poor would be encouraged to enter the workforce and eventually leave all welfare assistance behind.

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Cliff Effect: Jeannett Escarcega

Last Updated by Jim Trotter on

Jeannett Escarcega has first-hand experience with what it means to suffer the cliff effect. That’s what happens when a raise in salary leads to the termination of a work support benefit, leading to what often is a big net loss for the family involved.

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Losing Ground: The Cliff Effect

Last Updated by RMPBS News Staff on

The measures passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 “to end welfare as we know it” were heralded as a ticket to economic self-sufficiency. The poor would be encouraged to enter the workforce and eventually leave all welfare assistance behind.

Read More

Table: Income eligibility limits and children served

Last Updated by Burt Hubbard on

View a table of all 64 counties listing income eligibility limits and number of children served in 2012.

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