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Is Drug Testing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Applicants a Good Use of Government Funds? Open Access

In March of 2017, the Arkansas State Senate voted to make permanent its two-year pilot program to screen all eligible Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants for drugs and test individuals suspected of using drugs. Proponents of the new law argue that it will deter drug use and save the state money through withheld benefits of otherwise qualified new applicants and those up for renewal that test positive and do not enter a treatment program. This paper examines the marginal cost and marginal benefit of drug testing TANF recipients to determine if it is financially valuable for the state of Arkansas.

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