TANF and Domestic Violence

You may have heard reports from the most recent Missouri legislative session about something called TANF. This may be a well known acronym in political circles or social service organizations, but there may be many folks who do not understand what TANF really is or does.

So what is TANF?  And why are we writing about TANF in a blog hosted by an organization that works with abused women and their children?

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is a government program “designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency. States receive block grants to design and operate programs that accomplish one of the purposes of the TANF program.”

The overall goal of TANF is to offer short-term assistance (right now TANF benefits can be received a maximum of 5 years) so that hopefully families will be able to find employment and not have to rely on welfare.

“TANF provides monthly cash stipends via Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) which is used like a bank debit card to pay for rent, day care, and even for the purchase of food.”

In Missouri, the maximum benefit provided for a family of three is $292 per month ($3,504 per year)***

As a note of comparison, the federal poverty guideline in 2015 is $11,770 for a household of one.

So what does all of this have to do with domestic violence?

First of all, we know that domestic violence affects all socioeconomic classes.  Domestic violence is not just an issue for those living in poverty.  That being said, we recognize that women living at or below the poverty level will have fewer resources and choices when she decides she must leave an abusive situation for her safety and/or the safety of her children.

Folks who work in the field of domestic violence have discovered that access to financial support, such as TANF, is very important in helping abuse victims feel like they have the resources they need to leave an abusive relationship permanently.  One of the reasons victims return to the abuser is because they are not able to financially support themselves and their children.  Funds from TANF may provide the extra financial boost needed to allow abuse survivors and their children the time they need to heal, get back on their feet, and become independent.

In other words, for abuse survivors, TANF can be a crucial part of a safety plan that allows them to not only have the choice of leaving an abusive relationship, but to also have the resources they need so they do not feel they need to choose to return in order to survive.

TANF can have a positive impact on the lives of abused women and their children.

For more information, please visit:  http://www.moga.mo.gov/.