Depression Among Female TANF Recipients in Washington State

WCPC Seminar Series on Poverty and Policy: Winter 2010

Presented by Marna Miller
Senior Research Associate
Washington State Institute for Public Policy
Monday, February 22, 2010  12:30 - 1:30 p.m., questions / discussion until 2:00 p.m.
Parrington Hall Forum, Room 309
University of Washington


Marna Miller is a Senior Research Associate at the Washington State Institute for Public Policy. The Institute was created by the Washington State Legislature to carry out practical, non-partisan research on questions of interest to the legislature. Since joining the Institute in 2001, she conducted researched on child welfare, mental health, criminal justice, and other public policy issues. Marna received her bachelor’s degree Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin and Ph.D. in Agronomy from Cornell University.


Since the federal welfare reform in 1996, recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) are required to participate in work or work-related activities. In other states, depression has been shown to be more prevalent among women receiving public assistance. Further, depression has been determined to be a barrier to employment. It may also play a role in the high incidence of child maltreatment reports in the TANF population.

In 2007, the Washington State Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to measure the prevalence of depression among female TANF recipients.

During July 2008, a random sample of 700 female TANF recipients was surveyed using relevant diagnostic and treatment modules from the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). The CIDI is a well-validated instrument that allows lay interviewers to gather information. Researchers can then accurately diagnose depression using algorithms developed by the World Health Organization and Harvard Medical School.

In a one-year follow-up using administrative data, we evaluated the relationship between depression and its treatment on continued receipt of TANF and food stamps, employment and earnings, and referrals to child protective services.


See the slides from this presentation here