House Approves Welfare and Child Care Reauthorization
Child Welfare League of America
On May 16, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the Child Care and Development Fund, and abstinence education (H.R. 4737). The House-passed bill falls short of what is needed to help low-income families move out of poverty and better support their children. The welfare debate now turns to the Senate which is expected to take action on welfare legislation in the next few weeks.
The House-passed bill (H.R. 4737) was the final version of the bill that incorporates President Bush's welfare reform proposals. The bill:
- freezes TANF funding for the next 5 years;
- increases work requirements for single mothers to 40 hours per week;
- reduces state flexibility to provide education and training to TANF recipients;
- offers a small child care increase of only 4% next year with no additional funds guaranteed for the following four years; and
- gives broad authority to the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, Education, Housing, and Agriculture to waive any rules for programs such as child care, food stamps, public housing, and TANF. For example, under such authority states could choose to eliminate child care quality set-asides and market rate requirements under their child care programs.
The House earlier rejected, along party lines, an amendment by Congressman Ben Cardin (D-MD), that would have increased TANF funding by the rate of inflation over the next five years and increased funding for child care by $11.2 billion. Recognizing that substance abuse is a barrier to employment, the amendment would have also allowed up to six months of substance abuse treatment services to be considered as a work activity for TANF recipients.
For more information, or to contact Child Welfare League of America, see their website at: www.cwla.org
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