Explains how state programs under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program can provide better educational opportunities for low-income families by improving the alignment of TANF with other state-funded programs.
“Changes in our economy have made it increasingly hard for workers with only a high school education or less to earn enough to support a family. The labor market places a growing premium on education and training beyond high school. Those who have at least a two- or four-year college degree have seen their earnings hold steady (and for women, rise), while the earnings of those with only a high school diploma have dropped substantially—for men, by about a third. High school dropouts are the worst off—their earnings have fallen almost by half” (p.1).  While TANF is intended to provide temporary support, the authors state that TANF  recipients would greatly benefit if further education and work-related activities could count towards the TANF “work participation rate” (p.1). “This brief [highlighted] ways that states may count or combine work activities to get full credit for their measured work participation rate. It also [explained] changes that programs can make to improve their alignment with the TANF rules and make it easier for caseworkers to refer TANF participants” (p. 1). It included an outline of current TANF regulations, specifically caps on education and vocational training, while providing specific examples of how some states work around these regulations. Further, this article described strategies that states as well as educators can implement to take full advantage of federal TANF opportunities. (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)