Friday, July 25, 2008

No help unless you are pregnant

Here's the scenario: A young woman ages out of foster care. She enters the adult world, totally on her own.

This young woman enters college, and pursues her education. She has chosen to postpone creating a family of her own until after she has finished school and has the financial and emotional resources to build a healthy marriage and family.

But when she hits a road bump, and needs temporary assistance to get back on her feet, this young lady applies for assistance, and is told she cannot receive help with housing unless she is pregnant.

Now, tell me: "How does this work towards pregnancy prevention? Why should young women be advised to bring unwanted children in the world in order to acquire housing assistance?"

TANF is what we used to refer to as "welfare." The acronym stands for "Temporary Assistance for Needy Families." It was created as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which replaced AFDC, Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

AFDC was a federal assistance program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services between 1935 - 1997. This program provided financial assistance to children whose families had low or no income.

My understanding is that the evolution from AFDC to TANF was part of an effort to provide temporary assistance to needy people, in order to get them back on their feet and provide for themselves.

One of the stated purposes of TANF is: "To prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies."

You can provide all sorts of classes and instruction about not getting pregnant -- but when you tell a young woman that she has to choose between getting pregnant or being homeless, getting pregnant becomes a method of survival.

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