TANF Reauthorizaiton Votes to Begin March 30th

March 28, 2004

In February we wrote asking you to support the Snoweflake Campaign – an effort to add $6 billion in child care funding to the bill reauthorizing welfare – known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This bill is now expected to be on the Senate floor as soon as March 30. We are urging the Senate to adopt amendments that will improve the House passed bill in important ways. If these amendments are not passed, we would urge a “no” vote on final passage.

Please contact your Senators at 1-800-270-0309, or click here to send an email, today and urge them to support the following TANF amendments:

In addition to the Snowe amendment, other needed amendments include measures to:

  • Retain present work requirements
  • Expand education and training for TANF participants
  • Reinstate benefits to legal immigrants

Support increased funding for child care. Senator Snowe will offer an amendment to increase child care funding by $6 billion over five years. Lack of affordable child care is the greatest barrier to employment for adults on TANF. The majority of TANF families include a child under the age of six.

Retain current work requirements. The present work requirement are 20 hours per week for parents of pre-school children and 30 hours per week for parents of older children Those on TANF often have more than one job to meet work requirements, increasing child care and transportation difficulties. Expanding work requirements from 30 to 40 hours/week, as the House bill does, puts additional stress on already strained families without adequate provisions for child care.

Support expanded education and training. Adults in TANF often have lower educational levels and fewer employment skills and need education and training programs to become employable before they fulfill TANF work requirements or advance in the workplace. Congress should expand “work related activities” to include post-secondary education and increase time recipients can spend in education and training. The House passed legislation limits vocational education as an acceptable work activity to four months, while the present limit is 12 months and most vocational courses are two years.

Reinstate TANF eligibility for legal immigrants. A high proportion of low-income immigrants in the U.S. are in stable two-parent families, working in extremely low-wage jobs, and unable to survive financially on minimum wage earnings. Legal immigrants should have access to the same forms of assistance available to other low-income families.

Please contact your Senators at 1-800-270-0309, or click here to send an email, today and urge them to support the TANF amendments that would increase funding for child care, retain current work requirements, increase job and educating training for the working poor and restore benefits to legal immigrants.

For more information on TANF legislation click here.