House Subcommittee Learns about Strengthening the Safety Net

Jul 31, 2013

By Helly Lee

Today, the House Subcommittee on Human Resources held a hearing on improving the safety net. Witnesses described what improvements are needed to the nation's safety net programs, but more importantly, one witness highlighted what is already being done in their state to better serve families.

Safety-net programs are critical resources for millions of working families across the country who struggle to make ends meet. Programs such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) can make a significant impact in the lives of low income families. These safety net programs have been shown to lift millions above the poverty line, support working adults to stay in the workforce by supplementing low wages, and promote the success of children in school and later in life. However, many people can be confused by how to enroll in these programs and encounter numerous barriers when navigating these complex and bureaucratic systems.

This is why innovative efforts such as the Work Support Strategies (WSS) initiative, are key to helping policy makers, administrators and other stake holders improve and better serve families to get and keep the supports for which they are eligible. WSS is a multi-state effort in partnership with three national organizations, the Ford Foundation and three other philanthropic partners. WSS seeks to design, test and implement 21st century public benefits systems that would dramatically improve the delivery of work support benefits to low-income families. This involves creating and incorporating more effective, streamlined and integrated approaches to how service is delivered.

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