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More Families Receive Assistance During a Time of Recession

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To help cope with challenging economic times, more people have turned to financial assistance programs.  One such assistance program is TANF, which refers to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the program that replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children in 1997, significantly altering the nation’s welfare program.

The Census Bureau reported today that more families received TANF benefits  in 2009 than did in 2006.  The TANF participation rate for all families with children increased from 3.8 percent in 2006 to 4.8 percent in 2009, according to a new Census Bureau report based on the Survey of Income and Program Participation.  Married-couple families, who have the lowest overall rates of TANF participation, saw an increase in their participation rate from 2006 to 2009.

The report, Comparing Program Participation of TANF and non-TANF Families Before and During a Time of Recession, examines whether participation in TANF and other programs such as WIC and Medicaid increased and employment decreased because of the economic recession.

The report shows that the recent economic recession affected American families with children and that the impact was not just limited to TANF families or poor families. For example, poor non-TANF and other non-TANF families became more likely to receive energy assistance, food Stamps/SNAP, and clothing assistance from 2006 to 2009.  Nonetheless, TANF families remain more likely than non-TANF families to receive assistance from these other assistance programs.

Increases in program participation coincided with decreases in employment.  In 2006, 24.8 percent of poor non-TANF families and 82.4 percent of other non-TANF families had full-time employment in all of the past 12 months, compared with 17.2 percent and 76.0 percent, respectively, in 2009.  TANF families, poor non-TANF families, and other non-TANF families were more likely to have unemployment in one or more of the past 12 months in 2009 than in 2006.

From 2006 to 2009, participation in programs to help find work and job skills programs increased for both TANF and non-TANF families. For example, from 2006 to 2009, participation in programs to help find work increased from 11.5 percent to 25.0 percent for TANF families, from 3.0 percent to 7.4 percent for poor non-TANF families, and from 0.8 percent to 2.1 percent for other non-TANF families.

To learn more about program participation of TANF and non-TANF families during the recession, view the report.

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