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12 Years into TANF: Now What? A Discussion of the Current System and What Must Change. Liz Schott and Danilo Trisi schott@cbpp.org , trisi@cbpp.org California Symposium on Poverty Sacramento, California October 15, 2009. Brief History of TANF: The Early Years. Dramatic caseload declines

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12 years into tanf now what a discussion of the current system and what must change

12 Years into TANF: Now What?A Discussion of the Current System and What Must Change

Liz Schott and DaniloTrisi

schott@cbpp.org, trisi@cbpp.org

California Symposium on Poverty

Sacramento, California

October 15, 2009

brief history of tanf the early years
Brief History of TANF: The Early Years
  • Dramatic caseload declines
  • Increased employment of single mothers
    • Share with job rose from 62% to 73%
  • Drop in poverty, context of strong economy, expanded work supports
    • Increased child care funding, EITC expansion, SCHIP, child support collection improvement
brief history of tanf the early years1
Brief History of TANF: The Early Years
  • States had “excess” TANF dollars due to sharp and quick caseload declines
    • States found other programs in state budget for using TANF or MOE funds and/or built reserves
  • State flexibility to design work programs
    • Heavy “Work-First” approach used
    • Work participation rate not so big an issue because of caseload decline and state flexibility
brief history of tanf the middle years
Brief History of TANF: The Middle Years
  • Caseload decline continued despite 2001 downturn in economy
  • Employment of single mothers lost 1/3 of gains and child poverty rose
  • Work program innovation stalled in many states amidst reauthorization delays
  • Funding continuing to be used in range of state programs; reserves dwindling
recent and current phase dra and the aftermath
Recent and Current Phase: DRA and the aftermath
  • DRA made work rates effectively higher and harder for states to meet
    • Program changes often more about meeting work rates than improving outcomes
    • States respond to DRA with technical and structural changes and harsher program requirements
  • TANF caseloads continued to decline (by another 20% for 2005-2007)
recent and current phase response during recession
Recent and Current Phase: Response during Recession
  • State fiscal shortfalls led to proposed cuts to TANF programs; some did not happen (yet)
    • ARRA Emergency Fund helped support increased assistance costs and reduced state incentives to cut basic assistance
  • TANF response to recession is slow and late and varied across states
percent of children below half the poverty line 1995 2008 official measure
Percent of Children Below Half the Poverty Line 1995-2008 Official Measure

Source: Census Bureau

steps from official poverty to nas measure in cbpp analysis numbers and percentages in poverty 2005
Steps from Official Poverty to NAS Measure in CBPP AnalysisNumbers (and Percentages) in Poverty, 2005

CBPP analysis of CPS. Medical and work expenditures are from formulas supplied by Census and BLS staff. Thresholds are what Census refers to as the “MIT-GA-CE” version of the NAS thresholds. Geographic adjustment and housing assistance values calculated using HUD FMRs. “Stable” unmarried partners are those present in household 12 months earlier.

children below half the poverty line before and after considering family s mean tested benefit
Children Below Half the Poverty Line Before and After Considering Family’s Mean-Tested Benefit
children below half the poverty line before and after considering family s mean tested benefit1
Children Below Half the Poverty Line Before and After Considering Family’s Mean-Tested Benefit
children below half the poverty line before and after considering tanf
Children Below Half the Poverty Line Before and After Considering TANF

Source: CBPP analysis of the Current Population Survey; additional data from HHS TRIM model.

by state ratio of tanf child recipients to poor children 1996 and 2006
By State, Ratio of TANF Child Recipients to Poor Children: 1996 and 2006

Number of states whose ratio of TANF child recipients to poor children was…

slide19

Disconnected Single Mothers and

Their Children, 1996-2005.

Source: CBPP calculations of 1996, 2001, and 2004 Survey of Income and Program Participation.

nationwide responsiveness of tanf and food stamps to the recession
Nationwide Responsiveness of TANF and Food Stamps to the Recession

Percent Increase

March 2008 - March 2009

Note: This graph is based on data we collected for 44 states + DC.

california responsiveness of tanf and food stamps to the recession
California Responsiveness of TANF and Food Stamps to the Recession

Percent Increase

March 2008 - March 2009

by state responsiveness of tanf and food stamps to the recession
By State, Responsiveness of TANF and Food Stamps to the Recession

Between March 2008 - March 2009, number of states whose caseloads…

Note: This graph is based on data we collected for 44 states + DC.

the structure of tanf contributes to the push for caseload decline
The Structure of TANF Contributes to the Push for Caseload Decline
  • Fixed federal funding
    • declining in real dollars by nearly 30%
  • Work Participation Rate
    • Lowering the denominator (e.g. caseload) is a way to achieve higher rate of participation
    • Caseload reduction credit: same amount of credit whether family is employed or disconnected
  • Political and ideological environment also big part of the push for caseload decline
what next how to change tanf
What Next? How to Change TANF?
  • How to make TANF more effective as a safety net for families?
  • How to make TANF a more effective work program?
  • Are we measuring the right things?
    • “If you don’t measure the right thing, you don’t do the right thing.” (Joseph Stiglitz, NY Times)
  • How to use any new federal dollars?
how to make tanf more effective as a safety net
How to make TANF More Effective as a Safety Net?
  • TANF structure gives states incentives for serving fewer families, not more families
    • ARRA TANF Emergency Fund is exception
  • Could we add a performance measure whereby states are evaluated on how effective TANF is in providing a safety net for poor families?
  • What specific achievement to measure?
  • What are the consequences for poor performance?
how make tanf more effective as a safety net cont
How make TANF More Effective as a Safety Net? (cont.)
  • Possible measures could include:
    • Take up rates: What share of poor children (or of a proxy group) are served by TANF cash aid?
    • Measuring extent to which TANF reduces poverty, deep poverty, or poverty gap?
  • Considerations include:
    • What measure could a state or county monitor in real (or near real) time, and impact?
    • How to minimize administrative tracking burden?
how to make tanf a more effective work program
How to Make TANF a More Effective Work Program?
  • States are measured on a very narrow set of activities that increasingly drives program design and limits state flexibility
  • States do not get credit for many activities
    • Limited credit for education or addressing barriers
    • No partial credit even if substantial effort
  • Resulting program focus often does not serve those with disabilities or other barriers well
how to make tanf a more effective work program cont
How to Make TANF a More Effective Work Program? (cont.)
  • How to measure outcomes over time and whether family is on aid or exits?
    • Eliminate caseload reduction credit?
  • How to improve measure of engagement of current recipients in work-related activities?
  • How to increase (restore) state flexibility for program innovation?
  • Should states be able to use different measures of progress for families with disabilities?
how should any new money be allocated
How Should Any New Money be Allocated?
  • New federal dollars will be limited, hard to get
  • Use new funds for specific initiatives rather than simply increase block grant amount?
    • Limit new money to certain poverty-alleviation activities?
    • Use new money as reward rather than adding penalties?
  • Consider how to distribute new dollars
    • Allocate based on # of children in poverty?