APA Advocates Improvements for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program

In the below November 29, 2010 letter, APA urged the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, to expand the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.  APA’s recommendations for this expansion include:

  • allowing States to provide more time for participants to access mental health, substance abuse, and other rehabilitative services; 

  • providing additional federal resources to help States increase benefit levels and subsidize employment; 

  • giving bonuses to States who demonstrate large numbers of families moving from welfare to economic self-sufficiency; 

  • suspending the “work first requirement” to help more families become self-sufficient; 

  • expanding access to education and training opportunities; and 

  • requiring States to revise some of the program’s domestic violence provisions, including implementing the Family Violence Option (FVO), rather than leaving it as an option for States.

Improving the TANF program would help low socioeconomic status recipients leave poverty, which research shows can improve both physical and mental health. Welfare reform designed to facilitate the transition from welfare to work has placed limitations on benefits that many low-income women can use to ensure the well-being of their families, causing increased stress and contributing to the onset and exacerbation of psychological illness. The current version of TANF was recently extended until September 30, 2011, and APA will continue to work with Congress to improve this important program.