REPS. INTRODUCE BILL TO REQUIRE STATES TO TRACK SUCCESSES AND FAILURES OF POST-WELFARE AMERICA
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Pete Stark (D-CA), Tony Hall (D-OH), Tom Barrett (D-WI), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the "Welfare Tracking Act of 1999." The legislation is intended to give Congress a better understanding of the full impact of welfare reform by requiring states to track several measures of well-being of former recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).
"Has welfare reform in America worked? The answer is both simple and disturbing: we don't know," Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said. "Since Americans have been taken off welfare rolls, no state has gathered statistics to show if people have escaped poverty, improved their access to health care, or maintained their ability to obtain food stamps. While one in five children continue to live in poverty in the United States, we are in no place to declare welfare reform a success. Only through collecting data, can we isolate the true successes and failures of post-welfare America."
The bill utilizes the High-Performance Bonus Grant Program, which was created in 1996 to reward those states that do an exceptional job of moving people from welfare to work Under the HPB program, states are awarded a total of $200 million for excelling on certain measures of performance. The "Welfare Tracking Act" would use the HPB program to require states to report on the status of former TANF recipients, including:
- Employment -- Including such measures as the number of work-force entries, job retention rate, and earnings change of former TANF recipients.
- Health Care -- Numbers of eligible former recipients who receive medical assistance under Medicaid and SCHIP.
- Food Stamps -- The change in the percentage of eligible working families that receive food stamps.
- Child Care -- Indicators of the state's success in providing child care to needy families.
- Domestic Violence -- The percentage of self-disclosed victims of domestic violence who receive services from the state (applies only to states that have adopted the family violence option under TANF).
- Child Poverty -- The change in the number of children who live below half the poverty line.
The bill has been endorsed by over 100 national and state organizations, including the Children's Defense Fund, The National Organizations for Women's Legal Defense and Education Fund, Catholic Charities USA, and Bread for the World.