House passes Welfare and Child Act

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The House of Representatives recently approved the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and the Child Care and Development Fund. This legislation, HR 4, reauthorizes the 1996 overhaul law that replaced six decades of guaranteed entitlements with new recipient work requirements; however, the current bill does not consider present social realities.

The House Ways and Means Committee pulled this legislation out of committees and scheduled the vote without any public exploration of the issues or opportunity for new Members of Congress to educate themselves about TANF. Issues include the changed economy, state budget deficits and the lack of living wage jobs. It is unfair to people struggling to become self-sufficient to treat this legislation with so little consideration.

HR 4 is the same legislation that passed the House last year; however, the Senate never approved it. HR 4 requires increased work requirements for single mothers – to 40 hours per week (even for parents of infants); reduces state flexibility to provide education and training; freezes TANF funding for the next five years; and provides only 4% (one billion dollars) in child care funds next year with no additional funds guaranteed for the following four years. It also eliminates the income eligibility standard for child care, removing the only way to measure how many eligible children are actually receiving a child care subsidy.

With the passing of this legislation, young women struggling to create a better life for themselves and their children will face even tougher obstacles. Single mothers attending school to improve their lot may have to quit school to meet the increased work requirements, while others, unable to receive sufficient child care assistance, will take whatever extreme measures they can to survive.

Social reform is close to the heart of every Salvationist. Although HR 4 did pass in the House, you can still voice your concerns to your representatives in Congress. You can reach Members of Congress through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

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