Welfare Aid to Families Dwindles as Recession Gets Worse

As the economic recession deepens and more people are laid off of work, welfare assistance for families is failing to pick up the slack.

Last year, 18 states reduced the number of families that receive assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, according to a New York Times analysis of state figures.  TANF is a federal program that provides temporary cash assistance to struggling families with dependent children.  In order to receive aid, parents must work, perform community service, or attend job training a minimum of 30 hours a week.

In addition, unemployment rates in many of these states have increased at the same time the states are making cuts to their aid.  For instance, Michigan cut the number of families it helps by more than 13 percent in 2008, even though the state’s unemployment rate increased from 7.5 percent to 9.3 percent.

Since every state gets a fixed amount of TANF money based on the state’s previous welfare spending, regardless of the number of people who currently need assistance, it is likely that the program will be unable to meet the needs of struggling families in the current recession.