Cash assistance benefits for the nation’s poorest families with children fell again in purchasing power in 2012 and are now at least 20 percent below their 1996 levels in 37 states, after adjusting for inflation.
TANF provides a safety net to relatively few poor families: in 2011, just 27 families received TANF benefits for every 100 poor families, down from 68 families receiving TANF for every 100 in poverty in 1996. But for the families that participate in the program, it often is their only source of support and without it, they would have no cash income to meet their basic needs.
- TANF Weakening as a Safety Net For Poor Families
- How States Have Spent Federal and State Funds Under the TANF Block Grant
Nationally, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), which provides basic assistance to families with little or no income, responded only modestly to the severe recession that began in December 2007, and the national TANF caseload began to decline in January 2011.
- State-By-State Fact Sheets
- TANF's Inadequate Response to Recession Shows Weakness of Block-Grant Structure
The complexity and rigidity of the work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program can force states to design their TANF programs in ways that compromise, rather than promote, the goal of connecting parents to work. State TANF programs are built around an expectation of work, and many states have argued that they could operate more effective work programs if they had more flexibility. Congress has several options it could take to provide states with more flexibility while strengthening the work provisions and making them more effective.
- 5 Ways Waivers Will Strengthen Welfare Reform
- Fixing Some of TANF’s Failures
- LaDonna Pavetti Testimony: State TANF Spending and Its Impact on Work Requirements
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant provides federal funds to states for income assistance programs for poor families with children, welfare-to-work efforts, work supports such as child care, and other social services for low-income families. Roughly 4 million Americans receive TANF-funded assistance.
- An Introduction to TANF
The Center conducts research and analysis on federal TANF issues as well as state policy choices and implementation issues. We also provide technical assistance to state policymakers and policy analysts to help states design their TANF programs to reach more eligible families and meet families’ particular needs.
Revised May 1, 2013
March 28, 2013
March 1, 2013
Updated March 1, 2013
February 26, 2013
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