The number of children living poverty has grown steadily in recent years and recent data indicates that childhood poverty is at the highest level ever. Statistics show that one in four children live in poverty. An effort was initiated recently by Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL) and Gwen Moore (D-WI), who hosted a briefing with stakeholders and policymakers for the purpose of addressing factors that impact poverty and identifying ways to better implement programs that support families. The combination of poverty, unemployment, and a distressed economy continue to impact families across the country. The meeting included Representatives Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Karen Bass (D-CA), and Corrine Brown (D-FL) and a major point of discussion was the importance of safety net like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, especially in the times of economic crisis. One overarching theme of the briefing was the need to align child welfare, TANF, and fatherhood initiatives to better meet the needs of vulnerable families and communities and ultimately ensure child well-being and family preservation. Rep. Davis has introduced the Julia Carson Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act, H.R. 2193, which would increase the incomes for noncustodial and working parents through an enhanced earnings supplement. Rep. Moore spoke of her RISE out of Poverty Act, which has not been introduced but is aimed at reducing child poverty. Among other things, the legislation would set a new baseline that is adjusted for inflation, improve TANF’s ability to respond to a recession, permanently authorize TANF as a funding stream for subsidized employment, and revise the work participation rules for families receiving cash assistance.
Congress has passed a short-term TANF extension that will provide grants to states through the calendar year. Both the House and Senate have held hearings and will need to pass reauthorization legislation or another extension before the December break.