We've gotten a lot of lousy news out of this recession: rising unemployment, skyrocketing poverty, beleaguered banks, political fights. But there's at least one good thing that's come out of it. But, even that could be over soon.
It's called the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund. You might recognize the first four letters - TANF - as government code for welfare, but this program isn't welfare.
a jobs program, putting people to work, getting them long-term jobs and
work experience. In a time where almost no one is hiring, the TANF
emergency fund has put 240,000 people to work across the nation.
How does it work? It's simple. A local business or nonprofit hires a
worker with the promise that they'll receive job training. Uncle Sam
pays their wages at $10 an hour. People who need work get work, and they
stay off welfare.
Although they're temporary jobs, a lot of the
workers end up being taken on permanently. A company gives a worker a
chance, sees that they've got potential and shows them the ropes. It's
only natural that that worker would then become part of the team.
That's what happened at a new hotel in downtown Chicago. The hotel hired three people
through the TANF emergency fund, and now those workers are begin made permanent employees. Even when an employer can't take on a new employee
without government assistance, that worker gets real job experience for
their resume and skills they can take somewhere else.
is one of those words that gets people's blood boiling, no matter what
side of the political spectrum they're on. But this program is what some people think welfare should be -- a hand up, not a
In some states, like South Carolina, the traditional welfare
caseload has dropped by about 1,000 because of the TANF
emergency fund. But the program expires September 30. Already Illinois is sending out pink slips, letting people know their jobs are over.
U.S. House has already voted twice to renew the program, which would cost
Uncle Sam $2.5 billion for a one year extension. But in the U.S. Senate, it's
failed twice. Without an extension, thousands of families will lose
their jobs and perhaps one of the few good thing that's come out of this
Sue Tuffin, head of the Mason County Workforce Center in Grand Junction, Colo. told NPR's Cheryl Corley that she knows what will happen if the extension fails and she has to lay off a hundred workers.
can guarantee you that the majority of those folks will be right back
in my door and back on public assistance if they have not been hired
permanently," said Tuffin.
Right back in the door, but without a job. If we're going to be paying for public assistance anyway, should we at least pay for something that gets us a little closer to our goals of getting people jobs?