Committee on Public Policy

TANF - AAA Executive Board Actions

AAA Executive Board Endorsement of Principles Related to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

The AAA Executive Board endorsed the principles behind the following statement on the welfare reform program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

A significant body of anthropological research on poverty and on welfare reform demonstrates that the current TANF program, up for reauthorization in 2002, has brought considerable hardship to many poor individuals and families, and as a national policy, fails to seriously address the root causes of poverty in urban and rural communities.
Welfare reform, to be effective, needs to be part of a national policy aimed at

  • Reducing poverty;
  • Reforming the conditions of low wage work;
  • Ensuring access of needy families to cash, food, housing, childcare and health care assistance to meet their basic needs;
  • Supporting the socially necessary, but often unpaid, care-taking work done within families and communities;
  • Promoting safe, healthy families and neighborhoods;
  • Supporting access to basic and post-secondary education and meaningful job training;
  • And promoting race, ethnic and gender equity in employment, education and economic policies.

In pursuit of these goals, we support changes in TANF that will focus on poverty reduction and foster the well being of poor families. Specifically, we call for policies that:

  • Make work pay (increased housing, health care, child-care and other assistance, expansion of EITC and child care tax credits) for low income families and improve the wages and working conditions in the low wage sector of the labor force;
  • Support the unpaid, but socially necessary, care-taking work that promotes family well being in families with young children and dependent adults;
  • End provisions that reduce TANF roles without safeguarding the livelihood of the poor, including the five year life-time limit for benefits, diversion and compliance sanctions;
  • Revise work requirements to include pursuit of basic and post-secondary education and meaningful job training;
  • Recognize the impact of the current economic downturn on the poor, including low wage workers, to protect them and their families from unreasonable employment expectations.

(adopted November 28, 2001)


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