Hungry Hoosiers need better TANF access

Dear Editor:

Hoosiers know that caring for our neighbors makes the whole state better — and we believe that a bill before the state Senate would do just that.

Senate Bill 111 would allow more families to get help finding a job and afford the basics such as food, clothes, medicine, and diapers through the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF). TANF provides time-limited aid to families with children when they experience a job loss or some other crisis.

Senate Bill 111 offers reasonable improvements to make the program better for struggling Indiana families by modestly increasing benefits and making more families eligible for TANF.

TANF’s financial assistance can work in tandem with other key programs to help children live healthier and more stable lives. For example, families can use SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) to buy food, but not to pay the rent or buy diapers and toothpaste, as they can with TANF. Also, TANF can help families afford food if their SNAP benefits run out before the end of the month, as it often does. And TANF’s supports can help parents find a job, get training, and secure child care assistance.

However, only 10,000 of the 275,000 Hoosier children living in poverty in 2018 used the program and its maximum benefits offer very little for families to cover their basic needs: about $288 a month for a family of three, or less than 20 percent of the federal poverty line.

Time for SB 111 to advance through the legislative process is running out! Lawmakers should support SB 111 as an investment to make Indiana families stronger now and in the future.

Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director Feeding Indiana’s Hungry

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