National Council on Disability Calls for Improved
Outcomes for Families with Disabilities on TANF
- March 17 - A new position paper from the National Council on
Disability (NCD) calls for Congress to strengthen the ability
of states to assist families with disabilities on welfare to transition
from welfare to work.
There is now
a very strong record that indicates that significant numbers of
parents with disabilities and parents with children with disabilities
are in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
The record also indicates that many of these families have been
sanctioned and have not received the services and supports they
need to succeed. Some of the states, using the flexibility that
Congress gave them in 1996 and the TANF funds freed up due to
falling cash assistance caseloads, have taken very practical steps
to assist these families. The federal legislation should include
provisions to ensure that people with disabilities receive the
appropriate supports and services to enable them to transition
to work successfully.
disabilities often face multiple barriers to work. In addition
to the barriers faced by most low income Americans as they attempt
to work, such as inadequate transportation and limited opportunities
to improve education and skills, people with disabilities must
meet the specific challenges of their physical or mental impairment
or health condition-often requiring assistive technology, access
to accessible transportation, sign language interpreters, or personal
care assistance, work place supports etc. in order to participate
in programs designed to assist them in finding work. When appropriate
assessments of individual needs for reasonable accommodations
are provided, people with disabilities are afforded equal opportunity
for full participation, independent living, and economic stability.
summarizes research about people with disabilities and TANF and
some of the proposals being offered for consideration to improve
how TANF-funded programs address the needs of families with a
member with a disability. NCD makes the following recommendations
for the TANF reauthorization:
TANF and childcare funding; -- Ensure that parents with disabilities
are screened, in a timely manner, with appropriate diagnostic
tools; -- Prohibit states from sanctioning families until the
state has taken steps to identify barriers, provided the family
with assistance in meeting the rules; and modified rules, if necessary
to address the parent's or child's disability so that the family
can comply with TANF requirements; -- Provide states with flexibility
in how they define countable work activities, including rehabilitation
and participation in other activities that will help the parent
to become work-ready, and how they determine the length of time
a particular individual or family will need the specific services
or treatment; -- Provide states with additional resources to train
case workers and other staff who serve TANF recipients about issues
unique to disabilities, including how to provide timely and effective
screening, and how to identify programs, resources, and opportunities
for collaborative community initiatives to achieve systemic improvements
in services for people with disabilities; -- Create advisory panels
at the state level to assist states in addressing the needs and
barriers of people with disabilities; -- Facilitate access to
continued Medicaid or other health coverage when recipients move
from welfare to work; -- Assist states to better coordinate and
provide services needed by children with disabilities and their
families to address the multiple challenges facing parents and
children with disabilities; and -- Ensure that TANF programs and
services comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section
504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The TANF block
grant, first created in 1996 to replace Aid to Families with Dependent
Children (AFDC), was scheduled for reauthorization in 2002. Rather
than undertaking the full reauthorization, Congress passed a short
extension, which has since been extended to the end of June 2003.
It is likely to be reauthorized by Congress in the next few months.
As part of the reauthorization process, there have been many proposals
to strengthen protections for parents and children with disabilities
participating in TANF-funded programs. It is important that the
law establish policies that reflect both the intention and desire
of people with disabilities to work, and the reality that certain
individuals may still have severe work limitations requiring long-term
assistance in order to work.
TANF and Disability: Importance of Supports for Families with
Disabilities in Welfare Reform, is available at http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/familysupports.html
|Common Dreams NewsCenter is a non-profit news service
providing breaking news and views for the Progressive Community.
press release posted here has been provided to Common Dreams NewsWire by
one of the many progressive organizations who make up America's Progressive Community.
you wish to comment on this press release or would like more information,
please contact the organization directly.
*all times Eastern US (GMT-5:00)
Read our Guidelines
for Submitting News Releases
1997-2003 Common Dreams.