Monday, April 24, 2017

TANF may help families out of poverty, but it is too limited

Here is another student paper about TANF
For this assignment, we were asked to examine a policy that was related to welfare. I chose to focus on TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). I want to point out the positives, the negatives, and give reasons for why I believe it should become a policy change. TANF is a federally-funded program that is run by the states; it provides limited cash assistance to low-income parents and their children (Family Equality Council, 2016). The program was designed to help families reach sustainability and eventually be able to provide for themselves. In order to receive this assistance there are requirements that must be met.

Since TANF is run by the states, some requirements may be different for who can qualify for this assistance. TANF is temporary, so the requirement of receiving cash assistance from federal funds cannot exceed sixty months. “However, states can exceed the 60 month limit for up to 20 percent of their caseload based on hardship” (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2015). Work requirements are also set for the individual to receive cash assistance. The states are to impose sanctions (reduce or terminate benefits), if the individual is not meeting requirements of work activities. Most states have chosen to create the “full-family” sanctions. This simply means that failure to meet the requirements will result in removing benefits for the entire family.

This welfare program has many positives and many negatives. For instance, it allows for the opportunity of eliminating poverty for families who receive the benefit. Many of the causes of poverty are lack of jobs, inadequate housing, and poor nutrition. This program allows for the family who may be receiving low income, to receive a little extra to feed their children, pay rent and utilities, and get a car fixed up so it can carry a parent to work. This is always a benefit of cash benefit programs compared to in-kind benefit programs.  The TANF program in some states also allows you to meet with caseworkers in order to set goals. These goals include future plans to stop receiving TANF and be able to be stable with finances. The program is just not a free ride for people who do not want to work or be lazy. You must go through meeting requirements, and meet multiple times with your caseworker.

Although it seems that trying to help assist a family financially is great, there are also drawbacks of this program. The idea that you have to prove yourself eligible starts with the assumption that applicants are unworthy or undeserving until they have proved otherwise. Why not start with the idea that the amount of income you receive is not good enough to support a family of three, and this is a program that may help you? The other issue that ought to be disparaged is the time limit. While the time limit may cause the individual to want to get goals arranged for the future, what if this is the only option? For some people, they have tried multiple things and it seems no matter what, they cannot reach their full potential. After their sixty months have run out they will still have no source of income, and they will be unable to provide for themselves or their family.  Consider all the possible cases: persons who don’t quite meet the diagnostic criteria for a cognitive disability, but really have intellectual limitations that make them difficult to employ; persons who don’t meet the criteria for a full disability, so they can’t qualify for SSI or other forms of assistance, but in fact, they are very close to being disabled, perhaps due to mental or physical health problems; persons who have reoccurring health problems that make them not very dependable as workers (they miss too many days), so they lose jobs and can’t find and keep work for more than a year at a time, but over the course of fifteen or twenty years they have used up their five years of TANF; persons who are in fact a little lazy, a little sneaky, or a little unpleasant to have as employees, but they aren’t actually criminal or menacing or belligerent or entirely non-productive, they are just minimally productive.  Society has people like these, but capitalism doesn’t offer much scope for these people to succeed and become self-sufficient. TANF could be a policy that kept these people out of harm’s way, preventing them from ending up in homeless shelters, jails, hospital emergency rooms, and courtrooms.  

With both the pros and cons of the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Family), I do believe that there should be some policy change. The time limit should be extended to families who need it. As a caseworker, you should be continuously taking into account how a family is benefitting from the program. However, if you notice that a family may almost be to their full potential and needs and extra month, extend their cash assistance. I also believe that there should be a set amount of money to be given to family sizes throughout all of the states. The federal government should be able to provide each state with the same amount of funding so that one family does not receive more than the other. Who says that this parent is not meeting the same requirements, but not receiving the same amount? With these reasons I believe the TANF program does work to help assist families, however could definitely be improved.

Policy Basics: An Introduction to TANF. (2015, June 15). Retrieved March 1, 2017, from

Temporary Assistance for Needy Familes. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2017, from

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