welfare system (Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF)
Introduction to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF):
The erstwhile welfare reform law Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act -- PRWORA of 1996 after amendment came to be known as TANF which is a block grant program intended to make significant reforms to the welfare system of the country by converting welfare into a program of temporary assistance. (Administration for Children and Families: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program) TANF is a federal program of financial assistance to children and their families with low-income. TANF was an important transformation in welfare policy in the philosophy as well as the mechanics of the law. The families who are covered under TANF include the present and previous beneficiaries and other people who are entitled to receive and who might not be covered under the program.
In order to run TANF, the federal law classifies four purposes, any one of which states must be designing their program to meet (i) grant help to the deprived families such that children may be cared for either in their own homes or in the home of their relatives (ii) stop the practice of dependence of the poor parents on the doles of government by encouraging job preparation, work, and marriage. (iii) Stop and lower the occurrence of pregnancies outside marriage and set-up yearly numerical objectives for preventing and lowering the happening of these pregnancies and (iv) support the creation and maintenance of two-parent families. Grants under TANF have been utilized for cash assistance, education and job training, childcare, services dealing with impediments to work such as mental health and household aggression, and other services which assist families make a changeover from welfare to work.
As regards financial eligibility norms for TANF, cash aid normally comprises a household's assets and income. Categorical eligibility comprise group of individuals who are considered as single TANF assistance unit for determining eligibility and the quantity of cash grant. TANF families should contain a minor child or a pregnant women and the single most objective of TANF is to come to the succor of poor families. The federal and state government shares the finances for TANF. The federal government contributes $16.5 billion annually to the states to manage TANF programs. The term 'assistance' comprises cash payments for fulfilling a family's current fundamental wants. TANF is planned to be an intermediary, time-bound system. The imposition of time restriction on getting cash assistance perhaps is the most major characteristics of the TANF program.
As a general rule, no family which includes an adult who has obtained TANF assistance financed in whole or in part with federal funds might get assistance for more than 5 years. The TANF population is a diverse one comprising of 60% TANF families having 1 adult beneficiary, 35% is child-only cases, 4% are 2 or more adult beneficiaries and 90% of TANF adult beneficiaries comprise women. The ethnic break-up of TANF families is - 39% African-American, 31% white families, 25% Hispanic, 2.2% Asian and just 1.6% Native American families. About 25% beneficiaries have an earned income. (an Introduction to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)
Debate over TANF: Supporters and opponents:
TANF was enacted following a bitter debate regarding the characteristics of welfare dependency and the possible impact of culminating the welfare privilege and laying importance on work as an alternative. The conservatives were confirmed as correct that the welfare system itself led to dependence and that several welfare mothers as an alternative measure could hold down jobs or depend on others for help. A work supportive welfare system of narrow, short-term help efficiently took off several mothers off welfare. On a more basic note, the massive decline on dependency on welfare and the growth in work does not appear to have considerably modified the lives of these families. Prior to TANF, state leaders, the conservatives included, also stayed aloof from workforce program due to the expenses and administrative challenges concerned and the political disagreement they produced.
TANF proved to have ultimately solved the matter, by imposing supposedly an ardent 'participation standards' on recipients. Till 2002, half of all welfare families that included an adult were needed to be work activities at the minimum 30 hrs per week. Since such scanty work or even work associated activity has been necessary under TANF, President Bush's Bill reauthorizing TANF advocated significant modifications in the required prescription rates and in the required hours of work. Nearly all Democrats were against the increases, and a lot even desired to settle the present baseless requirements. (the Past and Future of Welfare Reform)
The major disagreements were due to the fact that encouraging effects depend on enhanced income, not just enhanced jobs. In the absence of enhanced income, the educational success and conduct of young and adolescent children were negatively impacted. TANF programs which resulted in improved earnings but not increased incomes as benefit losses counterbalance benefits in earnings displayed no clear positive impact on children. To put it differently, just enhanced employment is not enough to promote healthy development of children. Enhanced income is the answer. Within 1995 and 1999, the approximate number of children in promote care went up from 483,000 to 568,000, a rise of 85,000. Regarding the most disadvantaged lavers, it is pertinent to observe that as more single mothers attended jobs, negligence of children was on the rise, a pattern, more pronounced among the most underprivileged - those with the fewest resources to prevail over the combined impact of low-wage work and welfare loss. (Playing the Rules and Still Losing Ground)
Future Expectations of TANF:
TANF has presently been in the limelight after being temporarily given extension for as many as seven times since 1996 when it was launched. The House Bill to reauthorize TANF is on the cards and the Senate's version of the measure is PRIDE which is an acronym for Personal Responsibility and Individual Development for Everyone which was passed it is Feb 2003. The House and Senate have enacted clean extensions of TANF till June 30, 2004, the ultimatum for yet another extension or reauthorization. At this juncture, the future of TANF is at the crossroads. Congress thinks of making an extension of TANF such that the benefits can go on. After the resumption of TANF debate, one more round of 3-month extension without any amendment may not happen. Either camps are disappointed with the obstructionism of the other, or House Republicans in all probability add new provisions like increased work requirements to any type of extensions to urge a complete reauthorization. An extension of one-year of the current law, a thought suggested by some will produce perilous results as this does not offer the permanence and persistence states require to plan and execute policy at supporting families. (Action Alert- Ask for a Multiyear TANF Extension with Significant Child Care Funding)
Table: Total State-wise TANF recipients from Jan 1993 till June 2000 and also percentage for the period 1993-2000 is stated below STATE
Dist. Of Col.
Note: Several states made changes in the definitions of their caseloads -- California removed two parent families, Texas added families enrolled during a month, Wisconsin added child only cases
Source: U.S. Dept. Of Health & Human Services Administration for Children and Families
During the period 1993-2000 it is observed that the state…