Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Safety Net that Works through Tough Economic Times

The way that programs serve families in times of increased need is a critical consideration when evaluating the effectiveness of the U.S. means-tested safety net. During the current economic downturn – two U.S. programs have responded very differently, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Creating a Safety Net that Works When the Economy Doesn’t: The Role of the Food Stamp and TANF Programs. According to the report, because food stamps are a federal entitlement program, they have been better equipped to respond to increased need. TANF, in the wake of a tough state budget climate, has responded unevenly to the fiscal crises serving far fewer families than food stamps. While the report cites several reasons for these differences – it creates a compelling argument for why measures of caseload reduction might create incentives for serving the fewest number of families – as opposed to a performance measure that would allow for states to serve their neediest families – while still emphasizing work – such as, measuring an increase in employment or earnings.

For more information on TANF.

Policies to support Family Economic Success.

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