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2.4: Growing Resources: Connecting Families to Benefits and Services


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Presented by Sharon McDonald

2.4: Growing Resources: Connecting Families to Benefits and Services

The process of accessing public benefits and services can be a challenge for both caseworkers and families. Presenters in this workshop will discuss ways to better advocate for families experiencing homelessness, including ways to implement the SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery Initiative (SOAR), leverage TANF benefits, and more.

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2.4: Growing Resources: Connecting Families to Benefits and Services

  1. 1. Connecting Families with Benefits: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Sharon McDonald February 10, 2011
  2. 2. Temporary Assistance to Needy Families <ul><li>Block grant program – created 1996, funding has declined in value due to inflation </li></ul><ul><li>Purposes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide assistance to needy families so children can be cared for in own home </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Help families achieve self-sufficiency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promote marriage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prevent out of wedlock births </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. How is TANF used? <ul><li>Cash Assistance to low-income families </li></ul><ul><li>Work supports (child care/transportation) </li></ul><ul><li>Employment Activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subsidized employment, transitional jobs, job training, vocational rehabilitation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Emergency Assistance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Eviction prevention, rapid re-housing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Motel vouchers, support to shelters </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Housing assistance (rental assistance) </li></ul><ul><li>Case management </li></ul>
  4. 4. Cash Assistance <ul><li>Less than 40 percent of income eligible families receive TANF cash assistance </li></ul><ul><li>HUD data indicates that less than 20 percent of families entering/exiting transitional housing have TANF benefits – a higher number report no income </li></ul>
  5. 5. Barriers to Accessing/Maintaining TANF Cash Assistance <ul><li>Application hurdles (upfront requirements before enrollment) </li></ul><ul><li>Taxing requirements to maintain benefits (work participation requirements) </li></ul><ul><li>Sanctions </li></ul><ul><li>Time limits </li></ul><ul><li>Stigma </li></ul><ul><li>Low benefit levels </li></ul><ul><li>Macro-level: Pressure/incentive on states to reduce caseloads not enroll eligible families </li></ul>
  6. 6. Overcoming Barriers to Cash Assistance <ul><li>Outreach and engagement strategies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Food stamp rolls </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shelter applications </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Streamlining applications for assistance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cincinnati </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In depth assessments (looking for “red flags”) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Minnesota </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sanction reconciliation efforts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Exemptions to time limits </li></ul>
  7. 7. Improving Emergency Assistance Programs <ul><li>Explore/evaluate what your local welfare agency currently offers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Outdated program restrictions? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inefficient use of resources? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uneven access to program resources (requires “lucking” into informed caseworker) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Solve their problems/Increase efficiency </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Alameda – homeless programs distribute funds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mercer – evaluated spending, proposed alternatives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Salt Lake City – propose pilots </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Employment Assistance <ul><li>Become informed re: the innovations in the field to help low income parents find employment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subsidized and transitional jobs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Job development activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Partnering at “front door” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marrying education/community college </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Assess whether your community is supporting innovative practices and whether your clients are receiving them. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Advocacy Efforts Required <ul><li>Develop relationships with key TANF officials </li></ul><ul><li>EDUCATE!!!!! </li></ul><ul><li>Collect and regularly report data to state and local officials that demonstrate the overlap (or lack thereof) between homeless families and TANF-eligible/current recipients to facilitate buy-in </li></ul><ul><li>Option A: Promote barrier reducing activities for families receiving assistance from homelessness programs </li></ul><ul><li>Option B: Promote barrier reducing activities for ALL eligible families </li></ul><ul><li>Partner with state/local welfare advocacy organizations </li></ul><ul><li>Become engaged in federal welfare advocacy efforts </li></ul>
  10. 10. Questions? <ul><li>Sharon McDonald </li></ul><ul><li>National Alliance to End Homelessness </li></ul><ul><li>(202) 942-8253 </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>