The Washington City Paper recently spoke with Children’s Law Center Executive Director Judith Sandalow about the looming cuts to TANF benefits for thousands of DC families. This safety net is critical – taking it away pushes families deeper into poverty.
It’s these young children, advocates say, who will be hurt by a complete loss of TANF once their parents have reached the aid ceiling.
“The research is just so very, very clear,” says Judith Sandalow, executive director of the Children’s Law Center. “We know their lives will be worse. That’s not just bad for them, it’s bad for the whole community.”
Extending benefits to these 60-month families has an “upfront cost,” Sandalow says, but “over time, quite quickly, this will be a cost saving for the city.” With their monthly benefits already so low, many of these families are doubled up in housing, advocates believe. A wholesale cut to benefits could mean families winding up in shelters, which would cost the District significantly more money.
“People have a lot of stereotypes in their head,” Sandalow says. But many of these women are cycling in and out of TANF as they struggle to find jobs that can accommodate being a working, single mom climbing out of poverty.
“It’s hard for folks to understand what that economy looks like.”
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