The Committee on Public Policy of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) endorses the position paper on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families written by Jo Anne Schneider, which addresses vital issues within a key area of public policy concern to AAA members and to the communities with which we work. The paper highlights important research findings by professional anthropologists relevant to this subject, and provides policy makers and the public with concise information about the likely social impact of proposed legislation.

TANF Reauthorization Policy Suggestions
Committee on Public Policy, American Anthropological Association

By Jo Anne Schneider

Executive Summary

The U.S. Federal Welfare Reform Act of 1996, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), is currently up for renewal. In its first five years, TANF was declared a success for dramatically reducing welfare caseloads across the country.  However, some analysts suggest that the booming economy contributed significantly to caseload decline.  State and local government officials, as well as advocates for the poor, express concerns that TANF funding levels and time limits will cause hardship for both local governments and poor families.

Anthropological research focuses on the effects of welfare reform at the grass roots level, observing policy implementation in institutions, and the ways people respond to these policies.  Policy recommendations reflect findings from in-depth, process oriented research. 


Additionally endorsed by the following anthropologists, policy institutes and policy scholars:

Alan Benjamin, Pennsylvania State University

Leslie Bloom, Iowa State University

Center for the Study of Voluntary Organizations and Service, Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University

Karen Curtis, Center for Community Development & Family Policy, University of Delaware

Pablo Eisenberg, Center for the Study of Voluntary Organizations and Service, Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University

Judith Goode, Temple University

David Hakken, SUNY Institute of Technology

Jane Henrici, University of Memphis

Virginia Hodgkinson, Center for the Study of Voluntary Organizations and Service, Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University

Catherine Kingfisher, University of Lethbridge

William S. Lachicotte, School of Medicine, University North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Louise Lamphere, University of New Mexico

Deborah Freedman Lustig, Santa Clara University

Sandra Morgen, University of Oregon

Helen Safa, University of Florida, Gainesville

Jo Anne Schneider, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Merrill Singer, Hispanic Health Center

Debra Skinner, FPG Child Development Institute

Alex Stepick, Florida International University

For further information on the statement and the AAA Committee on Public Policy, contact

Judith Goode, Temple University - JudithGoode@cs.com