Downey Praises 22 Years of TANF, but Says it Must Extend Reach

(TRENTON) – Assembly Human Services Committee Chairwoman Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) released the following statement Friday on the 22nd anniversary of President Bill Clinton signing a law creating the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant and drastically restructuring cash assistance for families with children living in poverty:

“Wednesday, August 22 was the 22nd anniversary of the implementation of TANF. TANF, or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, has provided hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged residents living in poverty over the years, providing a temporary safety net for those in need of the most support.

“Over time, however, the reach of monetary assistance has declined significantly. In 1996, when the program was established, nearly seven out of ten US families received these monetary, need-based assistance. In 2016, only 23 out of 100 families in poverty received TANF benefits.

“While I am proud of the necessary assistance TANF has provided over the years, we must continue to work to improve upon the program to extend its reach so that no family in poverty is left fending for themselves. The cost of living in New Jersey is far too high for this program to keep up with, causing more and more families to become dependent on cash assistance. It needs to address the core issue at hand.

“I look forward to working with advocates to ensure that we can ensure families in need receive assistance.”