Quote of the Day – October 2, 2012
Today, it is very difficult for women to use education to count towards their TANF work requirement. Instead, most are stuck in low-wage jobs, earning a welfare benefit that is below 30 percent of the poverty line in most states (below $5,300 annually for a family of three). If they find a job that pays slightly better—a job that could get them off of TANF—they risk losing childcare, so the pay raise might be negligible or even a net loss. Currently, only about one in seven families qualifying for federal childcare assistance actually receives it.
Welfare reform also created lifetime limits, which range from twenty-one months to five years, depending on the state. It mandated that states sanction recipients off of TANF if they don’t meet their work requirement. That’s in part why we see an increase in the number of women and children in deep poverty, which is less than half the poverty line—less than $9,000 annual income for a family of three. 20 million Americans—one in fifteen—now live in deep poverty; up from 12.6 million in 2000, or an increase of 59 percent.In all, the TANF program now reaches approximately 27 families for every 100 families with children in poverty. Its predecessor, AFDC, reached 68 families for every 100 families with children in poverty. Yet both parties widely proclaim welfare reform a success and the media rarely challenges this notion. -Excerpted from Greg Kaufmann’s article, “This Week in Poverty: The Invisibles in Mississippi and the US” originally published on The Nation.