25 years after welfare reform, we need to ensure a real safety net for Pa. families
Opinion in the Pennsylvania Capital Star by Guest Contributor Louise Hayes
"A fraction of families who need help today can get it, and the help they get is far less generous"
Twenty-five years ago, on Aug. 22, 1996, then-President Bill Clinton “ended welfare as we knew it” – and made life much harder for the lowest-income Pennsylvania families. The law he signed that day replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with a new block grant, called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF.
TANF gave states discretion about how to spend the money that the federal government had previously given for cash payments to help low-income families get by. The new law gave states “block grant” funds that could be spent in many ways besides cash assistance, and provided incentives for states to reduce caseloads regardless of whether families had jobs or other sources of income.
The result is that our safety net for families has been shredded. A fraction of families who need help today can get it, and the help they get is far less generous. In 1996, for every 100 Pennsylvania families in poverty, 87 received AFDC. Today, fewer than 26 families receive TANF for every 100 families in poverty. Read the entire opinion piece here