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Welfare Reform and Extreme Poverty

What to Do?

By Peter Edelman

Despite the steep decline in caseloads since welfare reform and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) began in the mid-1990s, the number of those categorized as living in “extreme poverty” has risen. The policies underlying welfare reform and the means by which they are applied have made TANF a porous safety net for the poor. Improved funding for child care, better programs for the hard-to-employ, and overhauling the time-limit rules are some of the ways in which TANF can be transformed to lift many out of extreme poverty.

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