Social Work 5002
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is one of the most important and
debatable policies in the history of U.S internal aid programs. It’s now more than twenty years
since the famous TANF policy dominated the headlines and brought hope for poor and needy
families in the U.S. Up to date there is very little that the policy has achieved and has left those
concerned wondering how to achieve the objectives of the policy. Initially, the policy would
offer cash and other financial assistance to needy and poor families as well as offering a range of
subsidized services to genuine low-income earners. The policy has achieved some of its
objectives and fails to deliver a few of its promises as well for the last twenty years (Falk &
United States, 2008). This policy was once considered as a game changer for low-income
American citizens that has not been the case. The purpose of this paper is to discuss TANF
policy with respect to what it has achieved since its inception, what is yet to be achieved under
this policy, and but not limited to recommendations for its improvements.
TANF has achieved to some extent what it intended to for the twenty years that it has
been in place. Its achievements are in reference to cash assistance, block grants, work
participation rate, and its role during the great recession. These are also the basic components of
the policy as discussed below:
Initially this program was under Aids to families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in the
larger welfare reforms but currently, TANF has played a crucial role in improving it. Under
AFDC, the state governments would receive funds for the program from the federal government.
The program worked based on caseloads where money was released based on caseloads. This is
not the case under TANF since cash is released in fixed blocks irrespective of the caseloads. The
case governments under this policy determine what to do with cash based on the statutory
purposes which propose several activities. This program has been very successful and has
transformed society for the best.
This is a safety net for low-income earners which is under block grants and probably the
smallest part of the program. It is a welfare program which plays a critical role in the political
discourse of the country and has over the past be used for political mileage. It is in this brief
where the qualification and requirements for beneficiaries are outlined (United States, 2011). It is
not just every person who qualifies under this program but the very few who meets the required
selection criterion. The purpose of this brief is to help needy and poor families in meeting their
daily basic or immediate needs as well as helping every selected family in achieving long-term
Work participation rate
This is a flexible block grant for the federal government to state governments. This
program has a range of goals to achieve and it still remains the best in respect to children
support. The essence of this program is to ensure that children who benefit from the program are
raised well at home, helped to get employment, and/ encouraged marriage. It is through this
program where the government collects data to access the effectiveness, impact, and success of
the entire policy.
This policy is strengthening the social functioning of the target population considering
the many activities that are under the program. The above discussion has outlined some of the
benefits of the policy and how they have been met. In my view, the policy has proposals in place
to ensure that the target population has benefited as per its proposals. States are required under
the block grant to spent at least 75% of what they initially used to spend in serving needy
families. This shows that there is progress in promoting social functioning since it serves to
improve the welfare of needy families. There are equally several best practice standards that are
applied under this policy to ensure that funds are used for an intended purpose and that target
population benefits to the maximum. The federal government relies on work participation rate
which is part of the policy to access its effectiveness and performance of the program. There has
been an improvement in the overall social welfare of the needy families.
Considering the current economic crisis, there are many families that are turning to
TANF annually and this has strained the program beyond its holding capacity. Initially, there
were a considerable number of beneficiaries under this program and all would benefit as per their
requirements. Each beneficiary would get enough financial aid for their basic requirements. This
is not the case since the number has tripled for the last few years; those under the program now
usually get a fraction of what their needs are. It is no longer reliable for needy families since it
cannot accommodate their actual needs. The problem of congestion has led to tightened and
strict restrictions which deny genuinely needy families from joining the long list (Brockman,
2013). There are many requirements than ever for those who would want to join the program and
this is a problem. Another constraint is the concept of sub-poverty benefit levels which has
worsened the situations as families continue to suffer from hardship. TANF is not a competent
program that can offer a lasting solution(s) to the challenges faced by needy families. The
program has flaws which worsen the situation and has done more damage that it would be if the
program would not have been in place. Take for example the idea of denying parents from
participating in training and education programs which would in a way provide a permanent
escape from poverty. TANF offers a temporary solution to the problem of poverty and denies
available opportunities that can offer a permanent solution to the problem.
TANF is a very outstanding policy would transform the lives of needy families and help
them achieve their American dream. Building a safety net for needy families is meant to ensure
that the public gets the necessary assistance so as to improve the welfare of the society. The
following are some of the recommendations that can help to improve the policy in its service to
The federal government should ensure that it puts in place a well-structured strategy to
measure the effectiveness of the program. There are very many irregularities in the
implementation that have hindered the achievement of its goals. Coming up with a
follow-up plan will help to reduce the irregularities (Bernard, 2011).
There should be an assessment program to track down the annual enrolment of needy
families in the program. This way, the federal government will have an actual figure
required to settle the needs of the population.
The government should also increase its allocation for the program and not giving a fixed
grant without considering that the figures of those in need have increased.
The policy should not stop parents from joining training and employment programs that
can help them to achieve employment. It should also allow beneficiaries to enjoy the
benefits of other programs.
Bernard, P. A. (2011). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Hauppauge: Nova Science
Brockman, T. (2013). Temporary assistance for needy families: Work requirements revisited.
New York: Nova Science.
Falk, G., & United States. (2008). The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block
grant. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
United States. (2011). An Act to Extend the Program of Block Grants to States for Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families and Related Programs through December 31, 2011.
Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O.
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