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TANF at 15, Part I: How Well Does It Provide Income Support for Poor Families?

August 22, 2011

President Clinton signed the 1996 welfare law 15 years ago today, creating the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant to replace the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. We’ll present a series of posts this week that provide a closer look at how welfare reform has played out over the last 15 years. Today’s post focuses on TANF as a source of income support for poor families.

TANF at 15: A Weak Safety Net Getting Weaker

August 19, 2011

Monday will mark the 15th anniversary of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant (i.e., “welfare reform”). Here are some highlights of TANF as we know it today. On Monday, we’ll provide more information on how TANF has changed over time.

TANF Block Grant No Model for Other Safety Net Programs

July 14, 2011

While some leading conservatives have hailed the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant as a model for reform for Medicaid and other safety net programs, TANF’s poor response to the recent recession highlights the weaknesses of a block-grant structure. Here’s the opening of our new report on this issue:

Poorest States Facing Cut in Federal Welfare Funding

June 27, 2011

In a continued unraveling of Congress’ deal with the states when it enacted the 1996 welfare reform law, federal Supplemental Grants provided every year since 1996 to 17 states to augment their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant will expire this Friday, our new report explains. These states include some of the poorest in the nation, with child poverty rates averaging 22 percent (see map). Several have also been hit especially hard by the economic downturn; nine have unemployment rates above the 9.1 percent national average.

Welfare Reform Not the “Success” Ryan Claims

May 25, 2011

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan cites the “unprecedented success” of welfare reform to support his claim that the House-passed Republican budget that he authored would “strengthen the safety net.” The facts tell a very different story.

The Legacy of the TANF Emergency Fund

February 16, 2011

We and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) issued a major assessment today of states’ use of the TANF Emergency Fund to create subsidized jobs. Two years ago, amidst the worst downturn since the Great Depression, Congress created the fund as part of the 2009 Recovery Act to help states assist the growing number of low-income families hit by the recession.

Many Americans Face Poverty and Hardship During the Holiday Season

December 22, 2010

With the approach of the holidays, a time when Americans come together with family and friends to share the blessings of life, we thought that we’d take a moment to focus on those who are not quite so lucky by providing a snapshot of poverty and hardship in the United States. Unfortunately, millions of Americans are having trouble affording basic necessities. Below are the most current figures available in five important areas.

Federal Welfare Reform Funding Declines Despite Rising Need

December 16, 2010

In recent weeks, the already weak safety net for some of our most vulnerable citizens became substantially weaker. For the first time since 1996 when President Clinton and Congress created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant as part of welfare reform, no additional TANF funds are available from the federal government to help states respond to the large increases in the number of impoverished families as a result of a recession. We’ve just issued an analysis on the topic.

Killing Expired Program Won’t Save Money

November 9, 2010

Yesterday, the Republican Study Committee issued a press release announcing one of its first ideas for tackling spending: eliminating the TANF Emergency Fund, which the RSC says would save $25 billion over the next decade “by restoring welfare reform.” There are so many problems with this proposal that it’s hard to know where to begin. Here are the facts:

What Lies Ahead After Jobs Fund’s Expiration?

September 30, 2010

Many low-income families across America have experienced considerably less hardship in the downturn than they would have without the TANF Emergency Fund. The fund expires today, which means that starting tomorrow, needy families will have less help getting through what continue to be very tough times.