Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Advocates for Needy Urge Changes to Pa. Welfare System

Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, an advocacy group that works with low-income families, is calling for Pennsylvania to overhaul the way it administers its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the state's welfare system, saying that it's "shredding" people's chances to dig out of deep poverty.

In a report released Monday called Mending the Safety Net, CLS said the cash assistance program's requirements are too burdensome and that it doesn't provide families with nearly enough money each month.

"We think there's a perfect storm," said Kristen Dama, supervising attorney at CLS.

The report lays out several solutions for improving TANF, including retraining caseworkers, offering non-recurring grants for special needs such as back-to-school clothes or diapers, and raising grant levels. Those grant levels haven't changed since 1990.

A single mother with two children, Pennsylvania's most common TANF enrollee, gets $403 a month. The federal poverty line is $1,680 a month.