New Mexican families urge state to adopt reforms that would boost TANF enrollment and remove barriers in the program

SANTA FE—The Legislative Health and Human Services committee will hear a presentation on Wednesday, November 30, 2022 at 9:30 a.m about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and how eliminating unnecessary requirements would make it more accessible for the families who need it most. 

TANF/New Mexico Works provides a small amount of cash assistance and work supports to very low-income families with children. It is funded through a federal block grant and administered by New Mexico’s Human Services Department. Punitive rules make it difficult for families to enroll and stay enrolled in TANF. Even those who meet every requirement and get the highest possible benefit are still barely scraping to get by. Many parents have spoken out about their experience in the program here: These stories help explain why only 40% of eligible families access the program. 

Teague Gonzalez, Director of the Public Benefits team at New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, will present on several ongoing cruel and burdensome requirements that families participating in TANF are faced with that could be eliminated to help boost enrollment and better support New Mexico families. Currently, single parents who enroll in TANF are required to pursue child support. Then, the state collects and intercepts all but $100-$200 (depending on household size.) The state can stop forcing families’ to assign their rights to child support to the state and no longer count any child support income against whether a family qualifies, and stop punishing children and babies by taking away the income they depend on if parents violate program requirements. 

Thanks to families speaking out, New Mexico Human Services Department has started to recognize and agree to some changes necessary to strengthen New Mexico’s family cash assistance program (link), but we encourage them to go further and make these basic improvements that would transform the program and help improve day to day conditions for families across the state.

Presentation about strengthening the Temporary Assistance for Need Families program

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 at 9:30 a.m.

Teague Gonzalez, New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty 
Legislative Health & Human Services Committee 

New Mexico State Capitol Roundhouse, Room 322, or livestream virtually via:

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