The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and other co-sponsor organizations, hosted a briefing on Ending Poverty, Not Welfare, in which they call for a reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
This briefing included a panel discussion for four women who lived in poverty. They were often jobless, sometimes homeless and were single parents. Some escaped abusive situations, overcame addictions and/or disabling situations. All of these women now lead better lives, because they didn’t let circumstances hold them back. They discuss the challenges they encountered as they struggled to become self sufficient in a system often designed to hold you back.
IAM Projects Coordinator Teri McClendon attended this briefing. She said this briefing paints a picture of the modern-day assistance recipient. While many people believe that welfare recipients are lazy and don’t want to work, McClendon points out that in this economy, “unemployment, rising health care and child care costs, as well as increased cost of living paints a different picture.” Adding, “These women are certainly not lazy. They persevered through many obstacles to get an education and a better way of life.”
This briefing called attention to the need for TANF, but also for the need to make the system better. There are an overwhelming number of reports of families who are forced to remain on public assistance because there are no measures to help them take the steps to being independent. Often, the requirements to continue receiving assistance conflict with a recipient’s ability to continue their education or improve employable skills – the very tools needed to get ahead.