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Work First TANF Program Analytical FrameworkResearch Paper

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Designing an Analytical Framework for Work First TANF program

Child support program has been identified as an effective family program designed to assist low income families, and the goal of North Carolina welfare reform policies are to support qualified families to make them self-sufficient. In 1975, the federal government passed the Title IV-D SSA (Social Security Act) into law to mandate all states to implement CSE (child support enforcement) program to reduce public expenditure on social welfare. The North Carolina Work First is an important child support program funded and administered by the federal government. The Work First TANF program is a North Carolina program under the North Carolina DSS (Division of Social Services) that allows 100 counties to operate the Work First Program. Under the program, the North Carolina offers a subsidy for employers to offset the cost of employing the state recipients. (Vaughn, JSheely, Marsh, et al. 2012). The fund disbursed under the Work First is to support custodian parents. Under the TANF, the federal government delivers a block grant to state government to provide assistance to the needy families. The major reason that makes the state to provide the assistance is to ensure that the children are raised with their parents. The policies are also to reduce the incidence of pregnancies, and encourage two- parent families. Despite the benefits of the Work First TANF program, the program is time limited showing that the needy families can only receive the cash for only five years and cannot receive assistance after five years.

Objective of this project is to provide the analytical framework of North Carolina TANF program. The analysis of the program will assist administrator to effectively redesign the program to improve the welfare of the recipients.

Background, Social Context, History and Current State of the Issue

In 1996, the federal government passed the legislation to usher the welfare system by creating the TANF program, and the goal of the program is to improve the welfare of low income families, and address the problem of health disparities in the United States. The central goal of the program is to encourage the state government to implement the program at a local level. (Gainsborough, 2003). Following the passage of the TANF program, the federal government allows the state governments to pass their welfare program under the TANF to assist the low income families in their respective states. (Sheely, 2013). However, after the passage of the law in 1996, the welfare roll has gradually declined. Jackuelyn, & Tiffany (2013) is skeptical about the effectiveness of the program and unsure whether the recipients of the program are better off . While the recipient may be receiving adequate welfare program, nevertheless, being self-sufficient does not necessary mean the economic independence. While self sufficient allows individuals to make more money, nevertheless, being self sufficient does not necessary remove poverty that can make individuals to be economic independence.

Handler, & Yeheskel, (2007) argue that the structures of the TANF require the recipients to obtain employment or any employment making them not to be self sufficient. Moreover, the program does not offer education or job training for the recipients. The North Carolina TANF ("Temporary Assistance for Needy Families") (Fraser. Rohe, Cowan, et al. 2002 p 1) delivers an employment-related services and temporary financial support to low income families who have children. The goal of the program is to assist families to find a suitable employment in order to be self-sufficient. The North Carolina TANF Work First is designed to assist families who meet the program requirements. In other words, the program is designed to assist needy families to care for their families. Moreover, the program serves as a preventive measure to prevent children raised out of the wedlock. The program is also designed to strengthen families to achieve well-being, enhance safety, and be self-sufficient. Moreover, the Work First provides a short training for parents to assist them becoming self sufficient, and prevent children to enter foster home unnecessarily.

In essence, the Work First North Carolina program is designed to provide the following goals:

Assists needy parents to raise children in their homes or in the relative's homes.

Promotes work, job preparation for needy parents.

Encourages formation and maintenance of families in North Carolina.

While the federal government funding is to assist low income families, the policy is not new in North Carolina, however, previous funding programs were limited in time and scope. The federal funding initiative introduced in 2009 provided a large scale TANF subsidized employment program. Jackuelyn, & Tiffany, (2013) reveal that North Carolina has high unemployment rate in the United States, and the state's unemployment is higher than the national average. The unemployment rate in North Carolina is 6.3% compared to 5.8% national average, and the population of the North Carolina counties is approximately 102,331. The data from the Bureau of Statistics reveal that poverty rate in North Carolina was 17% in 2008 compared to the national average of 13.2%.

Problem Evaluation

While Work First TANF program aims to reduce poverty level in North Carolina, nevertheless, some commentators argue that the program is ineffective because it promotes people to depend on government as well as encouraging behaviors that may be detrimental to poverty reduction. Sirota, Mitchell, & Johnson, (2014) argue that one out of 5 families in North Carolina earns too little to afford essential living.

"A North Carolina family of two adults and two children must earn $52,275 annually to afford housing, food, child care, health care, transportation, taxes and other necessities, based on the Budget & Tax Center's Living Income Standard (LIS) for 2014." (Sirota, Mitchell, & Johnson, 2014 p 1).

Nevertheless, over one third of the families in North Carolina live below the LIS.

The eligibility is another problem associated to the Work First TANF. Since the AFDC has replaced the TANF, it means some families may be denied the cash benefits even if they are eligible for the program. Under the TANF, the state has a discretion to determine who is eligible for the TANF's benefits, and the discretion to discriminate is in line with federal government regulation to promote marriage in North Carolina as well as reducing children born out of wedlock.

Moreover, the North Carolina can not use the TANF fund to assist legal immigrants unless they have resided in the state for at least five years. Additionally, the North Carolina set the work requirements for state residents before qualifying for the program's benefits. For example, the recipients are required to gain full employment within two years of receiving the benefits. Moreover, single parents are required to seek for 30-hour pad job per week. A two-parent families are required to seek for pay paid job that should be between 35-55 hours a week, and failure to participate in the work can lead to the termination of the benefits.

In the North Carolina 2004 fiscal year, the state mandated that 90% of two-parent family and 50% of all families should participate in work activities. The North Carolina implemented this goal to abide to the federal government rules and regulations. A report carried out by the CLASP (2013) reveals that drug addition and substance abuse can interfere in parents' ability to secure jobs in North Carolina, which can contribute to child neglect and abuse. Based on this scenario, the TANF face challenges in identifying parents who are drug abuse.

Fraser, Rohe, Cowan, et al. (2002) contribute to the argument by pointing out that major challenges facing the North Carolina is to find the affordable and decent housing. Although, the government has implemented different initiatives to enhance affordable housing units for low income people, nevertheless, the government does not offer affordable housing units for some low income people because they believe they are not qualified for the program. However, the TANF Housing Programs have significant impact on families by assisting them to move from dependency to self-sufficiency. In 1999, the North Carolina government approved $3 million to fund pilot housing program for low income people.

Moreover, Work First program has improved the family welfare since the program has commenced. Between 1996 and 2000, the number of welfare's recipients declined to 6.5 million nationally. The percentages of people receiving the public assistance income has also reduced. Other major goal is to improve welfare of the recipients. Among the welfare recipients in North Carolina, percentages of people gaining fully employment rose from 6.7% in early 1990 to 28.1% in 1999. Moreover, TANF recipients were reduced by 6.5% between 2000 and 2005. Since 1996, the program has also led to a massive drop of families receiving cash benefits. Despite the a drop in the number of cash recipients in the state, there still a little change in the poverty rate. Devere, (2001) argues that poverty is still high among TANF recipients in North Carolina since 1996 after the program implementation. Typically, the poverty rates are still in North Carolina despite the program implementation. The table 1 below reveals the 2014 poverty rate in North… [END OF PREVIEW]

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