Governor Kitzhaber is proposing to reduce from 60 to 18 the number of months that extremely poor families with children may receive modest cash and job training assistance. What’s going to happen to the parents — and their kids — when they hit that lifetime limit? Will they all find jobs?
They won’t, unless the job market miraculously blossoms and the parents are able to land jobs at more than double the current rate. The Department of Human Services (DHS), who administers the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, has neither a plan nor the ability to make that happen.
In March 2011 there were about 30,000 families receiving TANF. Over the previous year, on average 702 TANF families obtained employment each month.
At that rate it would take 43 months for the families currently on TANF to find employment with assistance from the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program, a component of TANF.
In other words, unless the rate at which DHS helps families land jobs more than doubles, thousands of families currently in the program face an end to their lifeline that is TANF.
If that isn’t enough, consider the fact that each month hundreds of new families turn to TANF for vital assistance. A reflection of the tough economic environment, TANF is a program that has been growing to fill the need of a safety net for Oregon’s most vulnerable families.
The 43-month period that it would take for all families currently in the program to find work doesn’t even factor in the additional families needing assistance and jobs each month.
Thus, given the current rate that TANF families are entering the workforce and the growing caseload, Kitzhaber’s 18-month limit adds up to thousands of families with children being thrown out into the street.