Welfare Reform Exposed and Poor Families Facing More Threats

Chuck Sheketoff

On the eve of Governor John Kitzhaber's release of a budget proposal that may call for deep cuts to the state's largest cash assistance and job training program for destitute families with children, a national think tank reports that as a result of welfare reform 15 years ago, Oregon is helping far fewer poor families than it once did.

The analysis (PDF) by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) found that in the years just prior to the 1996 welfare reform legislation, the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program helped 60 families for every 100 Oregon families in poverty. By 2008-2009, the program -- now named Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) -- helped only 35 out of every 100 poor families (PDF), even when factoring in a significant caseload increase following the recession.

According to CBPP, in 1995-96 the program served an estimated 85 percent of eligible persons, while in 2005-06, the latest years with available data, TANF served only an estimated 31 percent of eligible Oregonians.

State caseload data bears out this decline. In fiscal year 1994-95 Oregon's program helped 40,131 families, while only 25,795 families received help in fiscal year 2009-10.

Read more at Oregon's Cash Assistance Program Helps Far Fewer Needy Families Than 15 Years Ago, and discuss here.

Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at www.ocpp.org.

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    The poor complain, they often do but that's just idle chatter. The system works. It works for all. At least for all who matter.

    • Noam Chomsky

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