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Testimony: District of Columbia Public Assistance Amendment Act of 2010

Children’s Law Center Policy Attorney Rebecca Brink testified before the DC Council Committee on Human Services opposing the District of Columbia Public Assistance Amendment Act of 2010.  The bill proposes cutting off families from Temporary Assistance for Need Families (TANF) benefits after 60 months, which — she argued — would lead to serious material hardship for children and families who already live in poverty.  Suddenly cutting off these benefits before the recipients have secured employment is a recipe for disaster and one that is likely to lead to a sharp increase in the number of children living below subsistence levels.

Already, children and families in the District of Columbia are experiencing harder times than ever before:

  • 29% of children in DC live in poverty, up from 22% in 2007
  • In 2009, 11% of DC residents were living in deep poverty ($11,000 for a family of four), compared to 8% in 2007
  • 1 in 10 DC residents is unemployed
  • Almost 30% of Ward 8 residents are unable to find work

On behalf of Children’s Law Center, Ms. Brink suggested that DC commit itself instead to improving its TANF program to ensure that more recipients are able to move from welfare to work.  She suggested that the District develop policies and programs that can more effectively respond to the needs of recipients by connecting them with education, training, mental health and other supportive services that can prepare them to participate in work activities.

Read her full comments here