Clearly, the TANF has really boosted the lives of many Americans and the number of people receiving aid has reduced relative to population growth.by incorporating training programs, TANF has greatly increased the employment of many people by equipping them with necessary skills to acquire a job or start a business.
The crime rate has reduced due to the fact that the TANF program has provided a temporary financial system that can be relied on as the individuals search for stability. Incorporating rehabilitation programs and Medicaid has led to better healthcare for the average American needy family. Creating eligibility criteria for the TANF has motivated people to at least meet the basic requirements which provide a good basis for further helping the individuals to be responsible hardworking citizens.
Despite the invaluable benefits of the TANF program, it has not been smooth all along, there have been several shortcomings noted especially during periods where the economy has slowed down. Funding provided by the government is flat, the budget has been maintained at 16.5 billion dollars for over 20 years. This has drastically reduced the strength of the program over the years due to lack of putting into consideration inflation or population growth over the years. Logically, if the population increases or there is economic turmoil in the nation, the funding should obviously increase to cushion the rising demands and needs. Currently, out of three families, only one family below the set poverty line is assisted under the TANF program (33.33%) compared to 8 families in a total of 10(80 % of the total).thats a decline of 46.67% since 1996.
Another shortcoming of the TANF program is its inflexibility during recession periods. The sole purpose of a financial assistance program is to ensure individuals or families with hardships are well supported and offered proper assistance while they look for a source of income. The TANF financial aid offered to needy families hardly changed during the recession period when most American was in dire straits. The financial assistance only rose by 16% during the recession period in 2010 while the unemployment rate increased by almost 88%.TANF is clearly not a proper model for financial aid.
The program is lacking in terms of transparency and accountability. The TANF program lacks provision for accountability on how each state uses the funds.clearly, this is quite a serious issue keeping in mind that for every 4 dollars in the TANF funds, 1 dollar goes into helping needy families. The remaining 3 dollars is mostly used by the states to carry out various activities. Therefore, the general public doesnt know where the funds go and how they are used. The fact that how the states spend the money is a room for disaster in terms of embezzlement of funds, mismanagement of laundering.
For the program to be effective in meeting its goals and objectives, policymakers should revise the general operations of the program by ensuring they keep track of how much a state is given and how they spend it.this will ensure that every single penny goes into helping struggling American families. This will promote transparency in how states spend their grant blocks.
The federal government should improve the earned income tax credit (EITC) especially the one given to families with children. This will ultimately aid the low-income earners in case of a crisis. Increasing the EITC will improve the stability of the TANF especially in hard economic times.
Removing counterproductive asset limits will help motivate low-income earners to save their money. Asset limits make it cumbersome for families to get help in times of a financial crisis. The TANF programs come with several eligibility requirements that limit or fine savings and ownership. These requirements are detrimental to its aim of ensuring families get financial security.
The role of any social welfare program is to provide necessary support to needy or struggling families in order for them to meet their financial obligations, gain access to proper healthcare, education and shelter services. Clearly, its apparent that the TANF program can be improved and modified based on economic and population pressure in order for it to meet its primary objective. TANF, can be supplemented with the aid of other social services such as Medicaid, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) to ensure that all Americans are at ease and have something to rely on in times of hard economic times and also for all needy, struggling families.
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