Posted by: Cobb County Liberal | May 26, 2009

This aggravates the hell out of me.

When I was in college, I did a lot of organizing around Hunger and Homelessness, and something I learned a little about was TANF – the Clinton version of Welfare.  I don’t like TANF, because I don’t think it goes far enough.  (It was a response to the right’s rhetoric about welfare mothers – what those folk don’t seem to care about is that they are punishing innocent children by not giving their parents money to pay rent.  The average age of a homeless is nine for God’s sake.)

TANF gives money via block grants to the states and leaves it up to states to dole out appropriately.

A little background first – The goals of TANF:

(1) provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives;

(2) end the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage;

(3) prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establish annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies; and

(4) encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

With those four goals in mind, let’s take a look at this way too short article from the AJC from the AP:

Georgia is using federal welfare dollars — called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families — to replace state money for child welfare programs.

That’s the finding in a new report from the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

The study found that Georgia is increasingly funneling the TANF funds to adoption assistance and child welfare programs that had once been funded with state dollars.

The result is that there are fewer TANF dollars to help needy Georgians find employment.

So it looks like Georgia is a) not using TANF funds appropriately, as the adoption assistance bit doesn’t seem to go with the law (*maybe* goal 4, but that’s a stretch) and is certainly not in the spirit of the law, and b) screwing over those who most need help in Georgia by not fulling funding its programs.

Reading this report from the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute is just fanning the flames of aggravation.  This is the report the article references, and it is well worth a read.  The summary from the report reads,

Georgia has 11 percent less available federal TANF funds for state fiscal year 2010 than it had in FY 2009. However, Georgia continues to direct the majority of TANF funds — in  increasing amounts — to services related to child welfare while cutting TANF funds from  state programs that directly satisfy its core purposes.

Policymakers should re-examine TANF spending, placing greater focus on programs that  work directly to satisfy TANF’s four purposes, such as promoting family self-sufficiency.

One of the unstated goals of TANF was to break the cycle of poverty.  In order to do this, the person in question needs a job.  That’s pretty clear.  Instead, Georgia is using the funds meant for helping people find jobs and get training for those jobs to help child welfare.  Don’t get me wrong – I am not against child welfare services, but those programs should be separate from this TANF program.  Georgia is misusing these funds, and it’s aggravating.  Especially, as one of the Republican talking points during TANF, was that we need to stop treating the symptoms of poverty by throwing money at it and get these people to help themselves, and now that money is being diverted away from that goal by a Republican state government.

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Responses

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