Federal regulations also allow for an extension of the 60-
month time limit to 20% of a state’s
entire caseload. The District has exceeded this limit by 30% and we are one of only a few jurisdictions to do so, without time limits. Yet, this important issue is not about dollars,percentages, caseload numbers, or time-limits. This issue presents a bigger problem thataffects everyone in this city.My goal here, today, and with my introduction of legislation, B18-
1061, the “District of Columbia Public Assistance Amendment Act of 2010”, is to address "
Breaking the Cycle
".Our public education system is failing our children who become adults; they do not have theproper skills to obtain gainful employment. This further perpetuates a cycle of generational
poverty that leaves families in the “system” for decades, generation after generation.
The TANF program is only one factor in breaking the cycle.Although the original intention and purpose of the federal TANF program was to assist familieswith children during a time of unemployment or under-employment, and ultimately preparethem to re-
enter the workforce; the current TANF program, let’s face it, both locally and
nationally, has failed to alleviate long-term poverty, allowing individuals to continue on thiscycle of reliance and dependency.In 2008, the Council urged the current Mayor to make some significant changes within ourTANF program. The Committee on Human Services, Chaired by Councilmember Tommy Wells,held several hearings and meetings with the advocates and the administration on this issue.The result of these discussions uncovered the fact that out of 17,800 families currently in theprogram; only
were in compliance with the program. That means there arethousands of families in the programs who are not complying, and the government does not
have a system currently in place to determine why they aren’t.
Why aren’t the families complying?
What are the barriers that prevent them from complyingwith the program? Why do we not know the answers to these questions?Last week, I met with over a dozen poverty advocates here in the District, the Director of the
District’s Department of Human Services, Clarence Carter, and Councilmember Wells’ staff
hoping to get some answers to these questions.We had more than an hour long discussion on the current issues within our TANF program.For example, some advocates expressed their concerns about the current barriers that TANFrecipients face such as, the need for better individualized assessments; connection to betterservices; access to better education and training; and, better referrals to legal organizations forrepresentation regarding Supplemental Security Income proceedings.
I continued to ask, “Why are the families in the local program not meeting the basic federalrequirements?”