The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is one of the few welfare programs left for low-income families after the welfare reform of 1996.
The problem is that TANF is not just incapable of dealing with the growing number of poor, but it has actually shrunk since it was first implemented 16 years ago.
Timothy Casey of advocacy group Legal Momentum points out that TANF has been a “disaster for poor parents and kids.” Casey cites a drop in enrollment rates from 79 percent to 40 percent of eligible families, as well as shrinkage in funding from 73 percent to 31 percent.1
What makes the whole thing worse is that the program has responded very poorly to the recession as interstate and region disparities in doling out TANF funding continued to worsen.
University of Massachusetts Boston economics professor Randy Albelda points out that two in five single mothers are currently unemployed – the same rate as was in 1996 – and that these single mothers cannot find jobs without the right structural support.
Albelda goes on to say that “ultimately, better designed assistance to poor and low-income families, old-fashioned cash assistance, and minimal employment standards must be part of the formula” to help deal with growing of post-recession poverty.
On a more positive note, the Christina Seix Academy in Brooklyn is opening its doors to provide quality private education in the Mercer County area to its pre-kinder and kindergarten programs.
The thing that makes it unique is that it aims to provide this quality education to households at or below the poverty level – specifically those with single parents raising their children.
Another unique thing is that the academy focuses on teaching children the value of hard work – “grit” as Christina Seix calls it.
“No matter how smart you are, you have to work like a dog in this world,” she says.