From TANF-UN to No TANF-UN? What Do Unemployment Numbers Say?

Chuck Sheketoff

Oregon’s horrific new unemployment numbers mean more struggling families, including two-parent families. Children in some of those families have more to fear than just today’s news, as a program that could help them sits under the budget ax.

The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program provides small cash assistance grants, which, when coupled with food stamps and the Oregon Health Plan, supply minimal support for very poor families with children under the age of 19.

While TANF is primarily a program for children in single-parent households, there is a small program for children in two-parent households (TANF-UN) where the parents are unemployed or seriously underemployed. In February 2009 there were 2,539 families with children being helped in the two-parent program, compared to 20,966 single-parent households in the regular TANF program.

The number of families in the two-parent TANF-UN program in February was double the level in February 2008. The twofold increase speaks volumes about our economic situation.

Last December, with Oregon’s unemployment rate climbing, Governor Kulongoski proposed closing this very children’s program under his proposed budget for the next budget cycle.

Shouldn’t this week’s new unemployment numbers help save children in the two-parent TANF-UN program from the budget ax?

Comments

  • Marshall Collins (unverified)
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    Absolutely! It should be saved. In fact I can't believe it is even being considered.

    On the note of unemployment if you know anyone looking for an HR Genius please let me know. Partner was laid off back in August and while I swore it wasn't something I would talk about in the blog-o-sphere, 7 months of living off my paycheck and the one he gets from the state has definitely changed my perspecive on a number of things.

  • Daniel (unverified)
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    Does anyone else notice that there are ten times as many single parents needing this? More evidence that single motherhood is not something to be celebrated but something to be looked down upon.

    The fact that the social stigma of unwed birth has gone by the wayside has punished children who now suffer poverty.

    Marriage would provide the best support for these kids.

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    single parents needing this? More evidence that single motherhood is not something to be celebrated but something to be looked down upon.

    Nice ASSumption that single parent are only mothers. Single dad's are a rapidly growing group...

    The fact that the social stigma of unwed birth has gone by the wayside has punished children who now suffer poverty.

    Look no further than the GOP who celebrated Bristol Palin's pregnancy at the convention. She was a true hero to the fools and now, big surprise, no marriage. Sad.

  • Brian C. (unverified)
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    No, we should not celebrate single motherhood per se but let's not forget about the absentee fathers. Bottom line, procreation is always a choice where consensual sex is concerned. If a woman is not using one of the many available birth control products then she clearly wants to get knocked up. The same is true for a man who chooses not to use a condom. It's just that simple.

    How marriage is somehow a solution to the problem I'll never know. Are you suggesting state sanctioned shotgun weddings? If so, how would such a ludicrous (though hilarious to envision) policy solve anything?

  • Bologna on Wonderbread (unverified)
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    Why is Oregon unemployment so much higher than Washington, Idaho, Montana, Arizona or Colorado? Aren't they all suffering from the same "Bush Depression"?

    What did they do differently?

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    in re:Bologna

    Does anyone know of an legitimate studies done that address this issue. IMO this is a topic that should be front and center.

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    Maybe if the other parent actually paid their child support, you wouldn't see so many single parent households needing assistance. Increasing the child support collection rate is something I know AG Kroger is committed to, as it affects so many parts of our society.

    Also, not every single parent is an unwed mother. They may be a widow, a widower, maybe their partner was abusive, maybe they're divorced, etc. Not every one is just a whore who decided to get knocked up. And not every one of them was deciding not to use birth control - it's not 100% effective, you know. Not to mention many women can't use hormone-based birth control, are allergic to condoms, etc.

    The issue here isn't sex (although some real sex ed for teens would be good). It's about jobs that pay enough to live on, about absent parents paying their child support, etc.

  • Scott J (unverified)
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    We should probably teach this statistic in our high school classes as part of sex eduction:

    "If you become pregnant and the guy isn't man enough to provide for the child financially, you are roughly ten times more likely than a "committed" person to be on the welfare roles".

    If we are going to teach them about sex, we should share with them the financial statistics that accompany single parent households and the finances of being an early parent.

    Yes, of course there are exceptions to the rule and some people live fabulous lives as single parents.

  • Brian C. (unverified)
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    Of course there are exceptions to every rule Jenni. That does not invalidate the rule.

  • Ole Barn (unverified)
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    How many heads of households with children are one pink slip away from needing assistance? The published unemployment rate is above 10%. This makes the real unemployment rate somewhere around 20% because half the unemployed people do not qualify for unemployment insurance from which we receive our statistics. Households with two caretaker adults become no less needy when their source of income ends than do households headed by a single adult.

    TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is designed to assist families with children. Have needy children done anything that warrants their being discriminated against because of the past actions of their parent or parents?

    We must value people above profits or brick-and-mortar buildings.

  • John (unverified)
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    I am a former welfare caseworker. I was there when we didn't allow two parent families eligibility for benefits. You know what happened? In order to survive, one parent had to leave (usually Dad). You don't save any money, you break up families and we are all worse off for it. A really bad side effect is that Dad frequently never came back. A much better alternative is to provide better job finding support (or even subsidized work) and help people get back on their feet. These folks did not cause a collapsed economy. It was corporate scumbags.

  • Bartender (unverified)
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    Of course there are exceptions to every rule Jenni. That does not invalidate the rule.

    Um yeah, actually, it does. Especially when the "exceptions" are more plentiful than the "rule." MOST women on welfare have only 2 kids on average, and are actually widowed, separated or divorced.

    I did a paper on this when I went back to school a few years ago. I'd have to dig up my sources, since I don't have them on my computer any more, but they're there without too much digging online. That is if you really care about the truth, Brian, rather than the outmoded welfare queen rhetoric from the 80s and 90s.

    Thanks for all your points Jenni. I was gonna say the same thing, but you did it better... and a lot faster!

    I wish Chuck would have published the current monthly TANF grants. I don't know what recipients get now, but three years ago, a family of 3 got about $500 per month and the rate hadn't been raised since the mid 90's. All this uproar about giving extremely destitute families with children $500 a month for a family of three? Give me a break!

    Let's see how well anyone can pay their monthly expenses - rent, utilities, and things like laundry soap, toilet paper, and clothing on $500 a month. TANF (and TANF-UN) is a last ditch effort to keep these families together and off the streets.

    Something like 30% of all children entering foster care were in families that received TANF in the previous year. Kulongoski had a TANF Children's Initiative (or some similarly named thing) a few years back to address this, but it puttered away without much fanfare. These children were not abused or neglected, their parents simply could not afford to house, clothe and feed them properly. That is stunning, in my opinion. And that was back when times were good and the economy wasn't in the tank. I shudder to think what these statistics look like now.

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