Center for American Progress

On 20th anniversary of welfare law, it’s time to change course
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On 20th anniversary of welfare law, it’s time to change course

Melissa Boteach and Rebecca Vallas discuss the 20th anniversary of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

As income inequality has risen and the gains of economic growth have concentrated at the top of the income ladder, more and more families are facing financial uncertainty, flat wages, and a lack of precautionary savings that can leave them vulnerable to a downward spiral. But when many families with children hit bottom and need income assistance to get back on their feet, they’ll turn up empty.

Twenty years ago this month, our nation’s main income assistance program for struggling families with children was replaced by Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, ripping a large hole in our nation’s safety net. Constructed as a flat-funded block grant to the states, the program has since lost one-third of its real value to inflation, with precious little accountability as to how dollars are spent and what outcomes are achieved. 

The above excerpt was originally published in The Hill. Click here to view the full article.

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Melissa Boteach

Senior Vice President, Poverty to Prosperity Program

Rebecca Vallas

Senior Fellow