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Thursday, August 24, 2006

TANF turns 10

Has it been good?? TANF = Temporary Aid for Needy Families

"Child poverty began a most welcome decline in 1993, declining from 22.7 percent then to 16.2 percent in 2000. Since 2000, child poverty rose every year through 2004, back up to 17.8 percent. TANF’s proponents point to the overall decline in poverty over the past decade. A more balanced view acknowledges that there are multiple causes of the decline in poverty through 2000. TANF’s policy changes contributed, but no one should underestimate the significance of a very strong economy in the 1990s. As the ten-year retrospective by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities below documents, employment rates of single mothers shot up from just below 62 percent in 1995 to 73 percent in 2000. But by 2005, employment among single mothers had dropped back to 69 percent. TANF changes almost certainly played a role in the increased work – but TANF without the help of an economy strong enough to reach the poor is not enough to sustain employment or to prevent a rise in poverty. Further, a close look at the policies that contributed to improved outcomes must give prominence to increases in the Earned Income Tax Credit, increased income from child support collections and TANF aid to supplement low-paid work, more child care assistance, and more help with job preparation. These work supports, combined with the good economy, are likely to account for much of the progress that did occur."

5 year lifetime benefits:
"In the early 90s, 80 percent of poor and eligible families received cash assistance; by 2002, the proportion was precipitously down to 48 percent. Instead of helping families to overcome barriers to employment, in 2003 there were one million moms and two million children with neither work nor welfare, prone to more hunger, illness, and other hardships. "

Wow, the Living Wage debate effect TANF:

"Working parents also need good quality and affordable child care and other supports such as transportation help, child support enforcement, and cash supplements to low earnings. Further, parents with disabilities or caring for children with disabilities need accommodations for their special circumstances. When these supports are in place, families can make genuine progress. That should be our goal."

I think its true that welfare should be a temporary source of income, allowing people to have a safety-net in life. Shoot I'm on welfare. Many of my student loans are subsidized by the Federal government. Thanks Uncle Sam. TANF was designed to encourage individuals to get off welfare and work, thus welfare-to-work. But there needs to be a true transition from welfare to work. Many mothers can't work b/c when they lose TANF they also lose child care. Try affording child care while earning $6 an hour. Not to be painted as a complete liberal, I will say that many people choose not to work and would rather use the system to meet their needs. It is these people who are ruining it for everyone else. Unfortunately, these are the ones we hear about on the news. When was the last time we heard a positive story about a woman on welfare who was able to get job training and is now self-sufficient. YES it does happen!

Ok so for welfare to actually work two things need to occur:

1) Individuals need to be able to find a job that will actually pay their basic expenses (including child-care)
2) Individuals need real motivation to wake up each morning and punch a time clock.

The first is easy, the second a littler harder. It is not however, neccessarily the government's role. We as a church need to step up and help our neighbors overcome barriers in their lives.

Passage Malachi 3:5:
5At that time I will put you on trial. I will be a ready witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty.

Quotes from Coalition on Human Needs

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