TANF: Where is it Now With Reauthorization?

The economy has made the proposed 2010 reauthorization efforts in addressing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program more difficult for lawmakers.  The result has been a series of block grant extensions, the most recent of which runs through September 30, 2013.

The argument among legislators has, and will continue to be, centered around what welfare and welfare-to-work programs should look like, but ultimately argument is all that is being accomplished—even though there are those in Washington DC that are ready to undertake a full TANF reauthorization.

The short-term assistance that is provided to families in immediate need is of vital importance to helping some 4 million families to weather hardships and provide them the means to move on with their lives both through financial assistance and access to training and other support services directed at helping recipients get into the workforce.

KRA Corporation felt that last year’s attempt by the Department of Health and Human Services to provide eligible states some leeway (through work requirement waivers) to experiment and potentially improve welfare-to-work programs was a notable move toward reform.

Any attempt to un-encumber workers, whose function it is to help families in need toward self sufficiency by removing layers of bureaucracy, is a laudable one. Especially as it provides latitude for states to exercise their understanding of their constituents’ and communities’ particular needs.

However, with the passage of the Preserving Work Requirements for Welfare Programs Act of 2013 (H.R. 890) through the House of Representatives in March, the initiative effectively has stalled. Despite interest in the waiver from both democratic and republican states, none stepped forward to apply for the waiver and with the introduction of H.R. 890, the Huffington Post’s Arthur Delaney seems to think that none now will.   

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), a policy advocacy group for low-income individuals, recently issued a policy brief, Goals for TANF Reauthorization, which proposed some interesting points for consideration. KRA is interested to see how the Senate responds to H.R. 890, and indeed to the shifting needs of families that receive TANF benefits as they look to reauthorize it.

Until then, the KRA team continues to support state and local welfare-to-work efforts by operating programs that successfully provide TANF applicants and recipients with intensive case management, academic and occupational training, work-readiness preparation, job placement and retention, and supportive services.  KRA/TANF workforce development programs…from Connecticut to Virginia…tailor services for participants  based on their unique situations, as well as the auxiliary resources available in the region.  Through the development of Individual Responsibily Plans, KRA staff build strong, sustainable, results-oriented relationships that lead to gainful employment and self-suffiencey.

The Virginia Initiative for Employment, not Welfare (VIEW), operated by KRA for the Norfolk Department of Social Services, is a stellar example of an effective welfare-to-work program model.  KRA/VIEW is routinely recognized by Virginia for meeting…and frequently exceeding…the Work Participation Rate (WPR) established by the State’s Full Employment Program (FEP), a customized training program under which employers define their workforce needs and KRA/VIEW provides tailored training and referral of candidates to meet those needs.

As a result of consistently high WPR and Employed, Retention, and Average Wage Rates, Norfolk ranks #1 among the 12 largest VIEW caseloads in the State.  In addition, KRA/VIEW leads Virginia with the most State FEP contracts.  More about VIEW can be found at: http://www2.kra.com/company-news/kra-monthly-spotlight-26/.