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Why is NETWORK working on TANF reauthorization?

In efforts to ensure that government assistance programs support families in overcoming poverty, NETWORK has been involved in a number of projects that track TANF’s reauthorization and progression over the past fifteen years. NETWORK is currently developing a report that will be third in a series of survey analyses that track Welfare Reform in the past fifteen years. Our previous reports, published in 1999 and 2001, examined the shortfalls of the transition from AFDC to TANF, finding that a wide range of people continued to live in persistent poverty despite the legislative changes of 1996. In each of our studies, including our current survey project, we coordinated with various private social service agencies across the nation to conduct our surveys. Such agencies included food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, service centers and others. This provided a means to contact families who may be at greater risk of severe or chronic poverty, thus covering a demographic that can demonstrate if our safety net programs such as TANF are providing support for those in great need or if they fail to do so. Our aim with these projects is to influence legislation to improve the program to cover the basic needs of the populations that TANF is intended to serve. Our upcoming report will be critical in providing an analysis of TANF during the recession, with an emphasis on the opportunity to make necessary changes in the reauthorization process.