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Work Supports Critical to Women's Economic Recovery

Posted by Lori Pfingst at Feb 15, 2012 04:45 PM |

This is part two of a three-part series highlighting the impact of budget cuts on women in Washington state.

Women play a significant role in contributing to the overall economy, their families’ economic security, and in caring for their children.  Supporting women’s ability to work, therefore, is essential to our economic recovery and everyone’s long-term well-being.

Investing in women is especially important as several structural barriers put them at an economic disadvantage compared to men. Women tend to work less to care for children, make less than men even for the same amount and type of work, and are overrepresented in jobs that pay less than the state average.  Work support programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) are essential to helping women keep jobs, improve their job prospects, and meet their children’s basic needs. 

As we outline in our recent brief, Women, Work, and Washington’s Economy, significant cuts have been made to TANF and WCCC since the recession began, making it harder for women to contribute to their families’ economic success and meet their children’s basic needs:

  • Reduction in TANF cash grant covers just 27 percent of a family’s basic needs. The value of cash assistance has declined substantially. In 1983, a family of three (a single parent and two children) received 63 percent of what they required to cover basic needs, as defined by Washington’s own need standard. Today, just 27 percent is covered, and that would decline to 26 percent under proposed cuts. 
  • Enforcement of 60-month time limit denies critical benefits to 23,000 families. In February 2011 a time limit was enforced on families that had been receiving TANF for 60 months or more.  Over 17,000 families immediately lost TANF, cutting them off from one of the only lifelines some had for meeting basic needs, like food, shelter, and clothing. In just one year, 33 percent more families have lost benefits (see figure). A proposed 48-month limit would immediately cut off an additional 2,000 families.
  • Over 27,000 families lose child care support following cuts to TANF and WCCC. Since 2011, over 27,000 families have lost assistance that helped them afford child care so parents could work. The enforcement of a 60-month time limit for TANF benefits, coupled with a reduction in eligibility for WCCC to 175 percent from 200 percent of the federal poverty line, has reduced the WCCC caseload by 38 percent in just one year. 

For more information on the impact of the recession on women’s economic security and what we can do about it, read the full brief.  Stay tuned this week for additional posts on the impact of cuts on women's safety and health. Read part one of series.

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