Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – Update on Program Performance

Source: U.S.Government Accountability Office, GAO-12-812T, June 5, 2012

From the summary:
The federal-state TANF partnership makes significant resources available to address poverty in the lives of families with children. With these resources, TANF has provided a basic safety net to many families and helped many parents step into jobs. At the same time, there are questions about the strength and breadth of the TANF safety net. Many eligible families–some of whom have very low incomes–are not receiving TANF cash assistance. Regarding TANF as a welfare-to-work program, the emphasis on work participation rates as a measure of state program performance has helped change the culture of state welfare programs to focus on moving families into employment. However, features of the work participation rates as currently implemented undercut their effectiveness as a way to encourage states to engage parents, including those difficult to serve, and help them achieve self-sufficiency. Finally, states have used TANF funds to support a variety of programs other than cash assistance as allowed by law. Yet, we do not know enough about this spending or whether this flexibility is resulting in the most efficient and effective use of funds at this time.

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