The Frayed Social Safety Net
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research recently released a study (PDF) showing that a shocking number of poor women with children do not receive adequate assistance, due to cuts to social safety net programs. The Obama administration’s expansion of programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) has not done enough to offset cuts to the programs in the 1990s.
Although 10.6 million, slightly more than two thirds, of adult women in poverty have health insurance to help cover costs, another 4.9 million (32 percent) are not covered. For nutritional support, 5.9 million women in poverty are using food stamps, but 9.6 million (62 percent) are not. Meanwhile, fewer than 750,000 poor adult women with children receive cash aid through TANF while 5.4 million — a substantial majority of women in poverty with children (88 percent) — do not get that support.
At Mother Jones, Stephanie Mencimer further reports:
Welfare reform created perverse incentives to drop poor women from the rolls, especially when state budgets are in trouble. As I highlighted almost two years ago in this story, the state of Georgia dropped nearly 90 percent of the women off its TANF rolls between 2004 and the end of 2007, even as unemployment soared by 30 percent, and then diverted millions of dollars in federal anti-poverty money to other parts of the state budget. Thanks to this, only 18 percent of all children in Georgia living below 50 percent of the poverty line — that is, on less than $733 a month for a family of three — were receiving TANF in 2008.