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Despite Recent TANF Benefit Boosts, Black Families Left Behind

October 25, 2018

As we’ve noted, more than a dozen states and the District of Columbia have increased cash benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for this year or next. Nevertheless, TANF benefits will still be at or below 60 percent of the poverty line in every state, as our...

More Than Half of Black People Live in States With Little TANF Assistance

TANF at 22: TANF Helping Fewer and Fewer Poor Families

August 22, 2018

The TANF block grant is supposed provide a temporary safety net to poor families, primarily those with no other means to meet basic needs. But the reach of cash assistance has declined dramatically over time.

Mother With Two Children

TANF at 22: Still Failing to Help Struggling Families Meet Basic Needs

August 21, 2018

TANF reaches far fewer poor families than its predecessor, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), and the families who manage to receive TANF cash assistance rely on increasingly inadequate benefits that make it hard for parents and caregivers to provide the basics for their children.

TANF Serves Hardly Any Poor Families in Some States

The Truth About “Welfare Reform”: TANF Is Disappearing

December 13, 2017

With President Trump and congressional Republicans planning to push next year, under the guise of “welfare reform,” for deep cuts to programs for some of the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable people, what we’ve learned about the impact of an earlier round of “...

In 1996, 68 out of every 100 families in poverty received AFDC benefits.

As TANF Ages, Its Performance as a Safety Net and Work Program Worsens

August 21, 2017

In the 21 years since welfare reform in 1996 created it, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program has failed in its two main purposes: to provide a safety net and to adequately support parents’ transition to work. TANF’s reach has shrunk, benefits to recipients have lost purchasing power, and states spend little to improve parents’ employability, as we illustrate in our...

TANF Reaching Fewer Jobless Single Mothers

TANF Shows Why Block Grants Are Bad Deal for States

June 27, 2017

As we’ve explained, some states would face disproportionally large cuts if policymakers converted Medicaid from an entitlement in which federal spending rises to accommodate rising need to a block grant or per capita cap, as the House and Senate bills to repeal the Affordable...

States with Above-Average Declines in TANF Funding Per Poor Child Saw Child Poverty Increases

Trump’s TANF Cuts Would Hurt the Poorest Families, and States Might Make Them Worse

May 30, 2017

President Trump’s proposed $2.2 billion cut to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in 2018 would reduce states’ federal TANF funds by 10 to 18 percent (depending on whether a state receives TANF Contingency Funds), as the table below shows. Over the...

Mother and Children Outside

Examining TANF, in Brief

April 13, 2017

We’ve issued policy briefs on three key issues regarding the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant:  whether it reaches most poor families, whether benefits give them adequate help to meet basic needs, and whether state TANF spending focuses on core welfare reform areas.  Unfortunately, TANF falls short in all three...


Arizona’s TANF Experience Highlights Problems with Block-Granting Safety Net Programs

March 8, 2017

The poor performance of Arizona’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program shows why policymakers should not convert other key safety net programs to block grants. The flexibility that states get under the TANF block grant has let Arizona do little to help...

Father and Kids Outside

Louisiana Spends Just 11 Percent of TANF Funds in Core Welfare Reform Areas

August 22, 2016

Louisiana spends just 11 percent of its state and federal dollars under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in core welfare reform areas, a new report from the Louisiana Budget Project using 2015 state financial data finds.  The state spent 8 percent on basic assistance, 1 percent on...

Louisiana Spends Just 11 Percent of TANF Funds in Core Welfare Reform Areas