One of the best-kept secrets of the recovery act is a job-creation engine known as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund. This program has enabled 35 states to partner with the private sector over the past year and a half to create more than 240,000 new jobs for low-income and long-term unemployed workers and to meet the rising need for services. Yet it’s set to expire in a month on September 30 if Congress does not extend it.
How does the program work? TANF ECF provides flexible block grants to states, which can then design their own subsidized employment programs tailored to the needs of their workers and businesses. States have used the grant for uses as diverse as summer youth employment programs and partial reimbursement to businesses for the costs of hiring and training new employees. A portion of the funding in each state has also gone toward temporary emergency services that prevent homelessness, increase children’s access to food, or provide utilities assistance to protect health and safety during this summer’s heat waves.
Congress will need to focus on large-scale job-creation efforts over the next several years to dig us out of the jobs deficit. But the first rule should be to do no harm. We have before us a bipartisan, job-creating program that has created nearly a quarter-million jobs in the past 18 months. Let’s get it done.
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