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A COMPARISON OF RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY POLICY
AND BUSH ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL
FOR REAUTHORIZING TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES

Prepared by Mary Anderson Cooper, National Council of Churches, March 2002

The religious community, in its "Call to the Reduction of Poverty in the Context of TANF Reauthorization," calls for a TANF program that will: The Bush Administration proposal:
1. Insure that poverty reduction is a central goal of TANF. 1. Lists as TANF's goals (1) promoting work; (2) reducing the welfare rolls; (3) strengthening families by encouraging marriage, and (4) promoting child well-being.
2. Provide sufficient federal and state funding and index the cost of the program to the rate of inflation; and significantly increase child care funding. 2. Provides no increase in funding and diverts $300 million from current efforts into a marriage-promotion program; holds child care funding at the current level.
3. Eliminate barriers to employment; provide education and training; count post-secondary education as work. 3. Provides no increase in funding for supportive services such as child care, transportation, job training and placement; makes no mention of post-secondary education; requires states to have 70 percent of recipients at work (up from current 50 percent); requires TANF families to work or engage in work-related activities for 40 hours a week (instead of the current 30-35).
4. Encourage public/private partnerships to train workers and find them jobs that will comply with workplace protection laws and not displace current workers. 4. Allows such partnerships, but makes no mention of workplace protections.  Initially would have denied benefits and minimum wage for people doing public jobs, but subsequently retracted this position.
5. Allow TANF recipients to retain more earnings before losing other benefits. 5. Makes no such provision.
6. Be available to all in need for as long as the need exists, and treat immigrants in the same way that citizens are treated. 6. Provides benefits for a lifetime maximum of five years, and only two years in a single episode.  Deny TANF and Food Stamps to immigrants for their first five years in the U.S., a change from current law, which denies Food Stamps for at least 10 years.
7. Not impose time limits on those complying with program requirements. 7. Retains current time limits, ending TANF after two years, or five years in an adult lifetime.
8. Eliminate discrimination against two-parent families, impose no caps on benefits for children born after a family goes on TANF, have no full-family sactions, give children more of the child support collected by states from non-custodial parents. 8. Eliminates discrimination against two-parent families, allows states to pass through up to $100 a month of child support to families, and requires that child support orders for TANF families be reviewed every three years.
9. Address special needs of people with disabilities, victims of violence, and some people who cannot or should not work, including providing maximum opportunity to participate in therapy and rehabilitation. 9. Maintains current provision allowing states to exempt 20 percent of caseload from time limits, primarily those who cannot work; counts substance abuse and mental health assistance as participation in work-related activities for only three months in 24.
10. Affirm every person's value; exempt from time limits and work requirements those with serious disabilities or caregiving responsibilities at home. 10. Requires that every TANF recipient family has "an individualized plan for pursuing their maximum degree of self-sufficiency," said plan to be regularly monitored; allows states to exempt 20 percent of their caseload from work requirement.

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