LAMPa Joins Advocates, Mothers, Urging Safety Net Protections
“Through human decisions and actions, God is at work in economic life. Economic life is intended to be a means through which God’s purposes for humankind and creation are to be served. When this does not occur, as a church we cannot remain silent because of who and whose we are.” – ELCA Social Statement, “Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All”
On May 23, LAMPa joined advocates from around Pennsylvania in the state Capitol to urge lawmakers not to cut the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. Joining them were mothers who rely on TANF. LAMPa, a member of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN), joined staff from Community Legal Services, People’s Emergency Center, Just Harvest, PHAN, and others to speak on the importance of TANF and how an increase to the cash grant can make a difference for families across Pennsylvania.
“TANF helps the very neediest families through times of deep hardship,” said LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale. “As families try to rebuild their lives after traumatic events such as loss of a home or job, domestic violence, serious illness or death of a family member, this temporary
assistance is a lifeline. The cash grant allows parents, grandparents or guardians to buy the basics — soap, toothpaste, shampoo and other items that aren’t covered through other programs, yet most of us consider essential to health and human dignity.”
TANF is the main source of income for approximately 57,000 children and 19,000 of their relative caregivers. Currently, a family of three receiving TANF grants gets $403 a month, a number that has not changed since 1990. The failure to increase the grants is a major issue. So to is Governor Wolf’s decision not to propose a grant increase in the Executive Budget. Rather, the budget proposes a $63.8 million cut in the federal TANF block grant cash grant budget line. Once grants are redirected, they are rarely replaced. This is a major issue given that this year caseloads are rising, and these funds may be needed in future years as well. Access these statistics, and a comparison of states’ TANF grants, at this factsheet.
Advocates and TANF recipients are calling for the legislature to maintain the federal TANF cash grant budget line item at $207,093,000. Additionally, they are advocating for the support of two bills, HB 2015 and SB 1014, to increase the TANF grant to 50% of poverty.
Lutheran Christians are called to do justice and serve their neighbors. Our ELCA Social Statement “The Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective” reminds us that our church is committed to “work with and on behalf of the poor, the powerless, and those who suffer, using its power and influence with political and economic decision-making bodies to develop and advocate policies that seek to advance justice, peace, and the care of creation.”