Trapped in America's Safety Net

Trapped in America's Safety Net

One Family's Struggle

Andrea Louise Campbell

There is also considerable variation in the size of TANF benefits (fig. 5.2). Among the lower forty-eight states, the maximum monthly TANF cash benefit in July 2011 for a family of three varied from $ 788 in New York, $ 714 in California, and $ 640 in Vermont to just $ 185 in Tennessee and $ 170 in Mississippi. 11 In twenty-two states, the maximum benefit provided an income less than one-fourth of the poverty line; in a few states at the bottom, the most a recipient could get from TANF was barely over 10 percent of the poverty line. Per person, that’s $ 2 per day—the World Bank’s definition of poverty in developing countries.

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