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States Harming People Most in Need - by Stephen Lendman
In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation ("welfare reform") Act (PRWORA) passed. Until then, needy households got welfare payments (since 1935) through Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), a program protecting states by sharing costs of increased caseloads during hard times.
Thereafter, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) set five year time limits, allocating fixed block grants to states to administer at their own discretion, putting needy people at risk during economic downturns when little or no additional federal funding is forthcoming.
TANF also requires recipients to work or be trained to qualify, even during hard times like now when skilled workers can't find jobs, let alone single mothers with young children needing them as caregivers in their most formative years.
During today's dire economic times, budget strapped states are implementing harsh cuts, harming vulnerable residents most, including families with children on TANF.
On May 19, a new Liz Schott/LaDonna Pavetti Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) study highlights the problem, titled "Many States Cutting TANF Benefits Harshly Despite High Unemployment and Unprecedented Need."
Deep cuts will affect 700,000 poor families, including 1.3 million children, about one-third of all households on TANF. Moreover, those numbers will rise, perhaps precipitously, as states keep slashing social benefits, hitting vulnerable residents hardest.
Already they're cutting cash payments or ending them entirely, including for "many families with physical or mental health issues or other challenges." As a result, poor ones are getting poorer. In addition, work-related aid, including child care, is being reduced, making it harder for working parents to retain jobs, needing someone home looking after their children.
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