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The Decay of the Cash Assistance Safety Net Under TANF, in Two Maps

August 22, 2016

States reach far fewer poor families under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — created 20 years ago today — than under its predecessor, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).  These two maps show how dramatically the cash assistance safety net has shrunk. 

At the end of AFDC, in 1995-96, most states provided cash assistance to more than 50 families for every 100...


After 20 Years, TANF Provides Little to Poor Families

July 20, 2016

Twenty years after Temporary Assistance for Needy Families’ (TANF) inception, few poor families actually receive cash assistance under it and, for those who do, state benefit levels are...

After 20 Years, TANF Provides a Weaker Safety Net for Poor Families

Arizona Cuts TANF Time Limit to Shortest Nationwide

July 5, 2016

Arizona’s decision to cut its time limit for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) from 24 months to 12 months takes effect this month, making it the nation’s shortest such limit.  About 1,000 families will lose assistance in July as a result, and...

TANF Weakening as a Safety Net in Arizona

Kansas Cuts TANF Time Limits — Again

May 16, 2016

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback will sign legislation today to shorten the state’s time limit for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), marking the third time in five years that Kansas has cut its time limit, which will now be 24 months.

These cuts highlight the risk of giving states control over more safety net programs.  Shortening time limits hurts the very families that need...

TANF Weakening as a Safety Net in Kansas

Subsidized Jobs Need Dedicated Funding

April 20, 2016

Subsidized jobs need a substantial, dedicated federal funding stream to “better promote the development of programs to effectively help the sizeable share of the working-age population with serious or multiple barriers to employment,” a new...


Subsidized Jobs Programs Work, New Report Shows

April 15, 2016

A new report from Georgetown’s Center on Poverty and Inequality draws on 40 years of evidence from subsidized jobs programs to call for increased federal, state, and local investments in these strategies, describing them as “...


Low TANF Benefits Cover Only Fraction of Housing Costs

March 11, 2016

Matthew Desmond’s new book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, shows how unaffordable housing costs push many poor families further into destitution.  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (...

TANF Benefits Fall Well Short of Housing Costs

5 Ways to Strengthen TANF

October 30, 2015

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant provided a cash safety net to just 23 of every 100 poor families nationwide in 2014, and policymakers should now take steps to hold states, which administer TANF, accountable for helping more poor families in need. 


Mother & Child

States Increasingly Weakening TANF as Safety Net

October 29, 2015

With a Senate Finance Committee hearing today on U.S. welfare and poverty, policymakers should know that states are increasingly using their flexibility under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to weaken TANF as a safety net program — making clear that state flexibility has not...

tanf serving fewer poor families

TANF’s Worsening Track Record Shows Why It’s Not a Model

October 28, 2015

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is meant to help poor families who may have no other means to meet their family’s basic needs.  In reality, the program’s reach is short and continues to shrink, as our updated paper shows. 

For every 100 families in poverty...

TANF's Role as a Safety Net Continues to Decline