Update on the Nation’s TANF Program – Do We Need More Data?
|September 12, 2011||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Federal Government||
According to a United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) statement regarding the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the number of families receiving benefits dropped by nearly half (approximately 50 percent) between 1997 and 2008, while the proportion of cases of child-only benefits increased (from 35 percent to almost half of all TANF cases). The GAO analyzed data from all states and surveyed TANF administrators to identify changes in the caseload amounts and demographics (if any) since the passage of the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) which reauthorized TANF while implementing changes to the employment standards required of TANF participants.
The research, TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES:Update on Families Served and Work Participation: A Statement of Kay E. Brown, Director Education, Workforce, and Income Security, includes the report that approximately 33 percent of families receiving TANF assistance in the country meet the work requirements.
The report concludes with the opinion that the current data collection system does not allow for a totality of understanding regarding the persons served by, or the benefits of, the TANF program nationally. This may be due in part to reporting standards only requiring data on the cash assistance piece of the program. So, it appears that there is scant empiric measurement around how TANF services assist welfare reform aims – an unfortunate conclusion as knowledge of what programs accomplish, and whom they benefit, should be a basic requirement of their continuation.