Congressman Adrian Smith proposes TANF reform


Congressman Adrian Smith believes the country is in the right place for reform.

With the Jobs for Success Act, Smith wants to change TANF– the Temporary Assistance for Needy Family’s program.

Congressman Smith laid out his main concerns and some believe what he proposes is just too general for those that receive the economic assistance.

On Wednesday, Smith officially announced his HR–5861 bill markup, also known as the Jobs for Success Act.

What he proposes changes to, he summed up into four issues.

"One is expecting what we call universal engagement and case management. Number two, measuring work outcomes so that states are held accountable,” said Smith.

The third addresses refocusing TANF dollars on, what he called, the truly needy.

The fourth point would be to use funds to support work activity.

"The number of folks receiving unemployment benefits has fallen to the lowest level since 1969, yet meanwhile, we have millions of Americans who are not in the work force,” said Smith.

Micheala Rut from the Kearney Housing Authority, said it can be tough for those with economic assistance to keep a job.

She said many have outside factors like child care, transportation and mental health issues that make going to work difficult.

"A lot of those jobs that are available have specific training or specific skills needed and some individuals don't have the education, the training, the skills to qualify for that opportunity,” said Rut.

Congressman Smith wants to focus TANF funds on those who are under 200 percent of the poverty line.

Rut said she believes that change could help those who need the money most.

"…But I also think there's kind of that next income gap that we'd be missing some of the families if we're limiting it,” said Rut.

Rut said there is a lot in Smith's proposed act that she thinks could help the community, but that it needs to be a case by case basis because everyone's situation is just too different to generalize.

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