Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Rural poverty grows, but rural use of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program stays low

A recent policy brief out of the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute focuses on challenges faced by rural families who get cash assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Authors Jessica Bean, Leif Jensen and Marybeth Mattingly found that even though rural poverty continues to grow, TANF usage in rural areas remains low.

The authors contend that while cash assistance from TANF helps low-income families, it does nothing to end poverty because the benefits do not meet the need and will do little to help families overcome the "poverty threshold." They say that the positive effects of TANF are not as common in rural areas, and that positive impacts that do happen in rural communities continue to decline with time. From the brief: "TANF is an important component of poor families' budgets. However, in its current form, it is insufficient; strengthening TANF would help alleviate some material hardship in the lives of America's neediest citizens."

The authors write that the upcoming reauthorization of the program offers an opportunity to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. They suggest that America's rural poor should not be forgotten in the process and that differences in positive impacts of the program between rural and urban poor should be acknowledged. They also write that TANF emergency and contingency funds should be re-established and the supplemental grants reconsidered.

No comments: