LTE Washington Post Editor--WEelfatre Reform--2016

Dear Editor:

Re: “Time to revisit Bill Clinton’s welfare reform” — Washington Post Editorial  --  08.22.2016

Twenty years ago, welfare reform was signed into law. What have been the results?  The reform has not been the success that some claim, and the Washington Post’s editorial is spot on in saying “welfare reform needs reform.”

Now, fewer people needing cash assistance actually get it.  As recently noted by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), “only 23 of every 100 poor families with children nationwide received such assistance in 2014, and fewer than 10 of every 100 poor families did in a dozen states.” In 1996, the year welfare reform was enacted, “68 families received cash assistance through AFDC for every 100 poor families with children.”

What we now see, unfortunately, is deep poverty on the rise because of the states’ failure to reach families in need. Hundreds of thousands more families are now living on less than $2 per person, per day; temporary cash assistance has lost a third of its value, and the safety net has failed to catch millions of our most vulnerable.

In moving ahead, we need to recognize the dysfunction of TANF – most notably, the increase in poverty and the failure to invest in families to achieve long term self sufficiency.

TANF’S biggest flaws include the institution of harsh work requirements that push families into low paying jobs and the bad habit of states using TANF block grant funds for everything under the sun -- for instance, the plugging of holes in state budgets instead of using TANF block grants for core purposes, i.e., keeping children in their own homes or the homes of relatives, in spite of the families poverty, and to invest in families with the goal of achieving financial independence.


John Horejsi
9610 Counsellor Dr.
Vienna, VA 22181-3248
(703) 255-7074
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