Support urged for aid to needy families

November 5, 2002

Episcopalians are being urged to contact their senators and representatives about passing a three-year reauthorization for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.

TANF is the primary funding source for states to assist those moving from welfare to self-sufficiency. Proponents, who originally backed a five-year extension, now want Congress to consider a compromise to extend TANF without change for three years. Congress returns to Washington on November 12 for a post-election 'lame duck' session.

'We believe that a 3-year extension would help poor working families much more than a 1-year extension,' said a letter signed on behalf of the Episcopal Church by the church's Office of Government Relations. 'Our decision to support a 3-year extension has been made because: 1) state officials and governors--those who administer TANF programs--have stated their concern that without a 3-year extension, many state legislatures, particularly those that only meet biennially, would not be able to plan adequately for the budgeting and administration of their TANF programs; 2) securing a stable level of federal funding for domestic social programs will probably be more feasible in 3 years, compared to 1 year from now; and 3) a 3-year extension would significantly de-politicize welfare reform. A 1-year extension does not adequately address these concerns and the needs of welfare recipients.'

A resolution passed by Executive Council in February 2002 supported reduction of domestic poverty and called on the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration to 'support federal programs…offering dignity and opportunities for the working poor to move out of poverty. The Church supports the reauthorization of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.'