The Center for Hunger-Free Communities

Solutions Based on Science and the Human Experience
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They talk about people who are on SSI and Welfare, how they’re on Welfare just because they don’t want anything out of life. People are on it because sometimes they don’t have any other option. I really wanted to show that calendar and say: Employment. Is it really possible? Do you know somebody that’s going to hire me when I need to take all those days off?

This photograph show's the many medical appointments Crystal had scheduled for her children.

Work and Opportunity

Anyone receiving TANF (cash assistance) and able to work must participate in employment or training programs for 30-40 hours each week.  Most recipients complete an initial job search at their neighborhood EARN Center, which stands for Employment, Advancement, and Retention Network.  With help from EARN Center staff, recipients determine which programs will help them find a job, given their...

Current Issue –

State employment and training funds were cut by nearly 50% in Pennsylvania's fiscal year 2012 budget, forcing many effective programs across the state to close their doors.  Tell your state legislators that the best way to help families leave welfare is to help prepare them for good jobs by funding meaningful training and education opportunities in their communities.

TANF provides cash assistance grants to very low-income children, their parents or caretakers, and pregnant women.  TANF grant amounts are extremely low in Pennsylvania - a family of 3 receives just $403 per month.  In most cases, individuals can only receive TANF for 60 months (5 years) over the course of their lifetime.

Current Issue –

As part of the state budget cuts for fiscal year 2012, the Department of Public Welfare must cut $400 million from the TANF program.  DPW's Secretary was given unprecedented authority to make cuts to benefit programs, leaving both the TANF grant amount and the length of time families can receive TANF benefits vulnerable to cuts.

In order to receive TANF, families must meet certain requirements, such as participating in employment or job training every week.  Individuals who do not meet all requirements are subject to suspension or termination of their TANF benefits (called "sanctions").  Sanctions have been show to negatively affect the health and well-being of young children.

Current Issue –

As unemployment climbs and fewer jobs are available for TANF parents, recipients must spend more time at the EARN Centers doing "job search activities" without any real hope of finding work. When education and training opportunities aren't available, recipients can get discouraged and face damaging sanctions.

Sick leave is an employee benefit that can be used when workers or their family members are ill.  Not all employers offer sick leave as a benefit, and because many low-income jobs pay at an hourly rate, sick time is often not compensated.  Parents, especially single parents, whose children have medical problems often find that they must lose pay or even a job because they have to miss work to...

Current Issue –

In 2011, Philadelphia City Council passed legislation mandating that employers provide a minimal number of earned sick days to their employees each year. Mayor Nutter subsequently vetoed the legislation for fear that it would hurt job creation.  City Council has not voted to override the Mayor's veto to date.  

Child care assistance is available for families receiving TANF, along with other low-income working families.  In Pennsylvania, Child Care Information Services (CCIS) helps parents find and pay for quality child care while they are receiving TANF and attending a job, getting an education.  Parents have the right to choose the type of care their children receive (i.e. child care center, pre-...

Current Issue –

The recent state budget disproportionately cut child care subsidies, reducing the budget by 11.5 percent.  Further efforts to raise co-payments and restrict working families’ eligibility for child care subsidies will have negative consequences for Pennsylvania’s children and economy.

 

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