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Let’s Improve TANF and Hold States Accountable for Results

January 11, 2016

Most of the Republican presidential candidates at Saturday’s GOP poverty forum called for changing anti-poverty programs to measure results rather than inputs.  Policymakers would do well to adopt reforms along those lines in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. 

States have extensive flexibility over how they use TANF block grant funds.  And as we’ve...

TANF's Role as a Safety Net Continues to Decline

TANF Work Requirements Don’t Bring Stable Jobs, Higher Earnings

November 18, 2015

November 19, 2015: We've updated this post to clarify the figure about sanctions for non-compliance with Maryland's work requirement.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has called for another round of welfare reform, “as an exercise to save lives and to get people...

Most Families Had No Work 5 Years After Leaving TANF

Facts Don’t Support TANF’s “Work-First” Approach

October 2, 2015

The facts don’t support claims by the American Enterprise Institute’s Robert Doar that TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is a success so we should continue and even strengthen its “work-first” approach — which requires recipients to participate in activities that mimic work (like unpaid jobs...

never married mothers

Doubling of Extreme Poverty Belies Welfare Reform Success Claims

September 22, 2015

As Congress seeks agreement on overhauling Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), lawmakers must address TANF’s dismal failure to help the poorest Americans, many of whom are desperately trying to find work, as documented in the new book ...

Extreme Poverty Doubled Under Welfare Reform

Marginal Tax Rates: Often Overstated and Tough to Lower

June 24, 2015

With the House holding a joint subcommittee hearing tomorrow on whether the phase-down in government benefits for low- and moderate-income people (their so-called “marginal tax rate”) creates disincentives to work, here are a few things that policymakers should keep...

Father and Kids Outside

SNAP Provides Foundation to Climb Economic Ladder

June 10, 2015

A House Agriculture Committee hearing today emphasized the important role of SNAP (food stamps) in supporting families as they work to boost their income.

In particular, witnesses noted that case management — assistance to help low-income individuals set and...

Family in Kitchen

Key Programs Lay Building Blocks for Kids’ Success

March 16, 2015

As Congress begins its budget deliberations, lawmakers should be concerned not only with how they’ll allocate funds next year but also with the long-term implications of their decisions.  Cuts to effective programs that ensure children start life on a positive path, such as WIC and home visiting, and those that help families meet their basic needs, like SNAP, rental assistance, and Medicaid,...

Arizona Experience Shows Risks of Further Expanding State Role in Helping Poor

March 11, 2015

Update, March 11:  We’ve made corrections to this post.

To save $9 million a year beginning in July 2016, Arizona policymakers have cut families’ time limit for cash assistance from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to 12 months in a lifetime, the shortest in the country.  Shortening time limits hurts the very families that need...

Data Show TANF Didn’t Respond Adequately to Need During Recession, Contrary to New Study’s Claims

September 10, 2014

A recent study from researchers at the Brookings Institution and the University of Nevada concludes that the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program responded to increased need during the Great Recession in the majority of states as a good safety net program would.  This...

TANF at 18: A Weakened Role and Not a Model for Safety Net Reform

August 22, 2014

Eighteen years ago today, President Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 — commonly known as “welfare reform.”  A key component was its creation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant to replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).

Since then, TANF has played a shrinking...