TANF

By: Nikki Rhoads

Overview

The PRWORA replaced AFDC with the TANF program which ended entitlement to cash assistance for low-income families. This means that some families may be denied aid even if they are eligible due to the states having a broad discretion to determine who is eligible for the benefits and services and who isn't eligable for the benefits and services.
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Step 1: Recognizing the Problem/ Setting the Agenda

Since the Colonial America era, states have formed laws dealing with needy relief. The first laws directed that cities and counties to establish taxes to provide aid to the poor. Relief was offered to the poor in their own homes, which is called "outdoor relief", or in the home of another private citizen, if that needy person did not have a home. As the 1800s advanced, the increase of cities began to turn against the concept of "outdoor relief" due to the belief that it conserved poverty. The states began building poorhouses to house and look after the poor. With the onset of federal programs like Social Security insurance, unemployment insurance, and cash aid to single mothers with dependent children, the poor were not needed to go to the poorhouse, and they became out-of-date.
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Step 2: Formulating the Policy

Concerned about what was felt to be a waste of the federal tax dollars by people who took advantage of the welfare system in the 1980’s, President Ronald Reagan began to work on the foundation of welfare programs. A short time after he was elected, Reagan had announced his intention to barrage the size of federal government in general and entitlements in particular. While he approved the idea of a basic social safety net for any American, Reagan successfully reduced several social welfare programs.Continuing off of Ronald Reagan’s policy, President Bill Clinton was appointed on July 1, 1996, of accomplishing the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. He did this by transferring the AFDC program and all of the other federal welfare assistance programs into one large welfare block called the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). The scheme of the TANF program is to boost the state flexibility in programs designed to help benefit the citizens. A couple of examples include providing assistance to needy families so that the children can be cared for in their own homes or homes of relatives, end the dependence of needy parents by the promotion of job arrangement, work, and marriage, help prevent and reduce the frequency of out-of-wedlock pregnancies,and lastly encourage the creation and maintenance of two-parent families.

Step 3: Adopting the Policy

As stated in the second step, the whole intent of the TANF was for the state to help the needy with welfare programs. The new TANF program has made major changes from all of the other welfare programs. The changes required states to submit plans to the Department of Health and Human Services for acceptance in order to receive TANF block grant funds. The law also reduced recipients to five years on federal benefits in their entire life and required the states to enroll 30% of the recipients in work programs in 1998. Under current law, the states have to submit periodic TANF State Plans to the federal government to provide an overview for the states choices under the system of block grants. Although the Plans’ level of detail will vary across the states and they will offer insufficient information to completely understand the details of eligibility, benefit computation, and client requirements. Thus this means that the states don’t have to notify the federal government if their choices have changed after they submitted the plan the first time.

Passage of Legislation

The TANF program was introduced June 27, 1996 and was sponsored by Rep. John R. Kasich. The two committees that were associated with this legislation was both the house - budget and the senate - budget. This was passed by The House on July 18, 1996 and passed by The Senate on July 23, 1996. From the major votes being recorded, the differences were resolved on July 31, 1996 and was finally agreed on by both on August 1, 1996. This program that had many revisions made towards it was passed by the 104th United States Congress, and was then signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 22, 1996 and become Public Law No: 104-193.

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Step 4: Implementing the Policy

The eligibility for TANF has somewhat of a wide range or variety for the different types of welfare eligibility. The general eligibility for TANF individuals who are newly applying or reapplying for assistance are that the applicant family must pass both the nonfinancial tests that are based on the demographic component of the family as well as its members, and the financial tests that are based on the income and asset holdings that are available to the family. There are 5 things that are brought up when you try to apply for eligibility for TANF. Those 5 things are, does the state try to divert some families from becoming recipients, how does family composition or individual status affect eligibility, what level of assets can a family have and still be eligible, how is income counted in determining eligibility, and lastly how much income can a family have and still be eligible? For most of those 5 questions, they all consider tests that have to be performed based off of their income, their assets and the status of their family.

Step 5: Evaluating the Policy

The TANF program is well supported with being successful, but sometimes from the wrong people who can abuse it. Either way, it can still be very successful no matter what the situation can be. The American people have always been helped out when it comes to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program created in 1996 and multiple parties seem to see the TANF program as successful. Since March of 1994, more than 1.4 million American families have stopped receiving welfare checks, and $24 billion has been cut from the food-stamp program. This allows states to hold authority over the nation's needy, and to some citizens, it looks like an abandonment by the federal government of its national responsibility. Over the past couple of years, a large sum of the TANF recipients found employment and left the program. The employment rates of single mothers had in fact increased during the mid- and late 1990’s.
"TANF does provide an important safety net for unemployed or underemployed families, but it reaches very few families in need, and when it does reach families they get a very small amount of cash.” -Dr. LaDonna Pavetti

On the other hand, a lot of people still see the TANF as a failure these days and see it abused a lot by people that don't need it. The people that are mainly suppose to benefit from the TANF program is poor families with children and there are a higher percent of those families that aren't supported through the TANF. For example, in 1996 only 28 percent of poor families with children, but since then, the percentage reached 74 percent in 2011. The number of poor families had declined when the TANF program was signed in 1996, but it started increasing again in 2000 and has been growing. Yet there are fewer and fewer families that can rely on welfare to help them get by when they fall into poverty. The program aslo failed to keep up with the unemployment, doubling between the years 2007 and 2009. Looking for ways to improve this policy, the government might look for state funds that can be used to help assist some of the families outside of the TANF formation, and look for a way to provide the increase of child care funding that will need to meet the wok requirements while not having to reduce child care funding for the low-income families that are working and possibly look over the possible impact of the TANF program dealing with the DRA’s cuts in funding for child support enforcement. So if you really think about it, the TANF in some cases is supported, but in other cases it isn't so heavily supported because not everyone in the world is gonna be able to agree on the same thing.

“Over the last 16 years, the national TANF caseload has declined by 60 percent, even as poverty and deep poverty have worsened." -Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Welfare Abuse in America

Works Cited

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U.S Department of Health and Human Services. 2012. "TANF FY 2012 Budget." Accessed 11/13/2014 from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/olab/tanf.pdf


"welfare reform." American Government. ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014.


Newman, Jason. "welfare reform." American History. ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 15 Nov.

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Rowe, Gretchen (2000), State TANF Policies as of July 1999, Welfare Rules Database


Parrott, Sharon, Liz Schott, and Eileen Sweeney. "Implementing the TANF Changes in the Deficit Reduction Act." Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 9 Feb. 2007. Web. 17 Nov. 2014. <http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=1176>


Parrott, Sharon, Liz Schott, and Eileen Sweeney. "Chapter 5: Examining TANF Spending Priorities." Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 9 Feb. 2007. Web. 17 Nov. 2014. http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=1176 >


"H.R.3734 - Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996." Congress.gov. Library of Congress. Web. 25 Nov. 2014. https://www.congress.gov/bill/104th-congress/house-bill/3734


Covert, Bryce. "The Failure of Welfare Reform Hits New Records." Think Progress. 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 3 Dec. 2014. http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/02/21/3316531/welfare-reform-failure-record/


Kaufmann, Greg. "This Week in Poverty: Reealing the Real TANF." The Nation. 8 Feb. 2013. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. http://www.thenation.com/blog/172767/week-poverty-revealing-real-tanf