Brown’s Budget Devastating for Children and Families

We all knew that the State budget for the coming fiscal year would be as challenging as those in previous years. But I don’t think anyone imagined the sweeping cuts aimed at the poor and their children proposed by the Governor. Reducing the CalWorks budget by $1 billion, with additional cuts to subsidized child care of over half a billion, the Governor proposes setting back the safety net to a time well before President Clinton promised “an end to welfare as we know it.” Continue reading

TANF Turns 15

Joe Valentine is the Director of Contra Costa County’s Employment and Human Services Department and is Chair of the First 5 Contra Costa Commission.

This month marks the 15th anniversary of the TANF program (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) being signed into law by President Clinton. TANF, known as CalWORKS in California, was built on the premise that welfare should only be temporary, that it was preferable for parents of children to work, and that jobs were available if people would only look for them. In the boom years of the 90s, this policy choice proved to be moderately successful. TANF caseloads began to drop everywhere as parents were able to find jobs.

Then came the Great Recession. Poverty rates climbed dramatically, especially child poverty rates. Child poverty in California alone grew from 18.1% in 2006 to 21% in 2009, and the increase in child poverty nationally followed a similar pattern. Rising unemployment pushed hundreds of thousands of families into poverty overnight. Continue reading