TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES (TANF)
The Lasting Legacy of Exclusion: How the Law that Brought Us Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Excluded Immigrant Families & Institutionalized Racism in our Social Support System
In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWORA) radically transformed our system of social supports. In addition to decimating cash assistance for families, the law’s immigrant exclusions exacerbated economic and racial inequities and harmed children and families in the 25 years since. This report—published jointly with the Center for the Study of Social Policy—examines the racist roots of PRWORA’s anti-immigrant exclusions and highlights the law’s role in institutionalizing and legitimizing anti-immigrant exclusion in a range of public benefits and tax credits.
This analysis finds that block grants (characterized by capped amounts of federal funding to states and other entities paired with expansive flexibility for how the funds are spent) are fundamentally ill-equipped to support basic living standards compared to other structures, especially those that meaningfully guarantee access to adequate benefits or services. Specifically, block grants struggle to respond to need, can be less accountable to program goals and to the people who participate in the program, and can exacerbate inequities–especially racial inequities.
by Cara Brumfield, Funke Aderonmu, Kali Grant, Aileen Carr, Indivar Dutta-Gupta, Isabella Camacho-Craft, Doug Steiger & Peter Edelman
Though TANF seemed promising to some in its first four years, evidence from the last 15 raises alarms and suggests a need for new strategies to help disadvantaged families.
The center submitted comments on the discussion draft of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization bill to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources.