Monday, February 21, 2011

TANF’s Uneven Response

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities released a report on the unevenness of TANF’s response during the financial crises. The report, which examines TANF in the first two years of the economic downturn, asserts that TANF has only been modestly responsive and goes on to say that in 22 states TANF responded very little or not at all to the crises. When we invest in policy and programs they should yield their intended results and the responsiveness of TANF is particularly important because TANF provides basic support to low-income families who are at increased risk when the economy is in crises.

When TANF is reauthorized, a critical consideration should be the program’s responsiveness in times of economic crises. The report outlines some of the factors that should be considered.

  • Redesign the Contingency Fund.
  • Systematically track, by state, measures that assess the effectiveness of TANF as a safety net for deeply poor children.
  • Replace the work participation rate and caseload reduction credit with a new performance measure that focuses on employment outcomes or other measures of family well-being, with adjustments during hard economic times.
  • Make modest changes in the types of work activities that states can count in order to refocus TANF employment activities on improving outcomes for families.
  • Provide additional funds to help states maintain and build on the successful subsidized employment programs they created through the TANF Emergency Fund.

The report provides context about TANF and its uneven response, detail on the suggested policy changes needed to address the problem, and state by state fact sheets.

To see previous PfR posts on TANF read A Safety-Net that Works through Tough Economic Times, Evaluating TANF and TANF in Tough Economic Times.

For further strategies to promote Family Economic Success.