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Does TANF prepare recipients for jobs in our changing economy?

Overall, TANF focuses on welfare-to-work, without enough evaluation of the specific work opportunities that families receive. Often, these positions are low-wage, part-time positions with limited benefits (if any) and few options for advancement. Turnover rates for such positions are often high. Additionally, TANF recipients have few opportunities to seek educational pursuits that would open up the possibilities for more substantial employment. Only 30% of families counted to meet a state’s TANF work requirements are allowed to pursue education, capped at a 12-month maximum, unless a family is able to continue education while working a specified number of hours. Thus, only a few states have created successful education programs that support career and occupational advancement. According to the Center for Law and Social Policy, 41.5% of all adult TANF recipients have less than a high school diploma, and less than 5% have postsecondary education. However, it is expected that between 2008 and 2018, two thirds of the new job openings will be filled by workers who have completed a postsecondary education. In order to be competitive in today’s society—and beyond—it is critical for education and job training to be emphasized for TANF recipients in order to be able to secure employment that provides economic stability for one’s family.