Proposed Changes to TANF Opposed by CWEE

CWEE’s advocacy coordinator, Isabel Cruz, testified to the State Board of Human Services on the rule packet for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

Isabel spoke in opposition to a proposed change that would automatically disqualify TANF recipients for intentional program violations across separate benefits programs such as the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).CWEE’s advocacy coordinator, Isabel Cruz, testified to the State Board of Human Services on the rule packet for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. 

Here’s a bit of Isabel’s powerful testimony: 

TANF plays a key role as a crucial income support in a broad set of programs that help put food on the table, keep the lights on, and enable families to survive immense hardship while building towards self-sufficiency. $500 per month for a single mom and two kids cannot go very far without the support of CCCAP and SNAP, among others. The interconnected nature of our safety net support programs should serve to streamline and improve the participant experience, not expose them to greater liability.

Participating in a benefits program like TANF involves a lot of work, which is multiplied across the various programs people enroll in, all on top of overcoming barriers like homelessness, domestic violence, mental health issues, substance abuse (sometimes all at once). It is very easy for things to get lost in translation, including the importance of certain disclosures and their impacts on your eligibility. 

Expanding the liability for wrongdoing puts an undue burden on struggling families, increasing the stakes for making a mistake or not knowing how best to advocate for yourself in an incredibly complex system.

Isabel was also recently quoted in The Denver Post in a feature story about how the pandemic is widening existing inequities within our communities.