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Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in Michigan


Federal entitlement programs require people living in Michigan different opportunities as concerned with TANF beneficiaries. The question is that the whole concept directed toward the elimination of jobless claims in Michigan should have incentives but of more qualitative coloring. It is meant here that the quality of the entitlement program should be changed. It is not necessarily to increase benefits. Practically, it is the main tool to improve social stability by means of assets registered in the state and federal budgets to assist people in financial need. Work First Program illuminates the prospects of changing the core features affecting society in terms of the low level of employment or poverty.

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To maintain and weigh all pros and cons concerned with TANF programs, the officials should be aware of how to make it economically and socially well off. In this respect, this study evaluates some additional claims to regulate and improve the social “bottom” significantly. Surpassing the peculiarities in the state of Michigan, it is quite important to analyze social performance. Some reactive implementation of change is proposed in the paper. Hence, shifting the focus from work to education for TANF beneficiaries in Michigan participating in the Work First programs would result in greater economic independence. This very statement provides the pivot for proper discussion and analysis, in particular.

Discussing policy

State welfare reforms are at a focus of the officials in Michigan. In this case, the main force of the state government is implied to making Work First programs more accessible and popular with different organizations. This incentive has already contributed to Michigan’s social and economic stability. It considers the work of Family Independence Agencies (FIA) and Michigan Department of Career Development with its subsidiaries known as Michigan Works! Agencies (MWAs) (Anderson & Seefeldt, 2000). This peculiarity of local state regulations helps officials and people around fix the reasons for the problem and the way for solutions. Thereupon, different situations were taken into account. Some among them are single parenting or adolescent parenthood. The research done at the beginning of the twenty-first century showed that the current stage of TANF policing is outrageous. The caseload which happens within TANF content of beneficiaries able to achieve the governmental support is divided into three groups:

  • Children (57%)
  • Adults (26%)
  • Teens (13%) (KFF, 2003).

Further still, the majority (87%) out of the number of teens is adolescents living in TANF families, the rest are teen parents (KFF, 2003). Such a situation gives grounds to suppose TANF adolescents as victims of their TANF families at large. Children are also TANF beneficiaries due to their helplessness in terms of social and financial affairs. On the other hand, there are different cases of TANF adults. However, this presupposes a set of other reasons to be outlined in the paper later.

To implement changes and constant support, the Governor’s initiatives in Michigan should be discussed in particular. First of all, the document was adopted by Governor Jennifer M. Granholm for further implementation by the Department of Labor & Economic Growth in the state of Michigan and his director at the time, Robert W. Swanson (Njiwaji, 2006). The gist and extra-ordinary character of the document with further instructions for every participant are in its direct practical use for the state. So, administered at the end of 2006, this decree constructs the most significant features of what should be changed and how.

Therefore, along with funding allocations stated in the document, there is a mention of educational encouragement to “participate in an appropriate comprehensive basic skills education” (Njiwaji, 2006, p. 3). It makes the policing perspectives for MWAs in verifying the implementation of the decree also concerned with an educational constituent. The advantage of such intention from the Governor is that it proposes a set of different core activities.

It is stated that people can be involved in basic skills education or participating to obtain General Educational Development (GED) (Njiwaji, 2006). This direct type of policing TANF families in Michigan has a somewhat need for amendments after the outcomes of the economical crisis. However, this limitation can transform into a recession-proof action if introducing the main three of the Work First Program, namely: Job, Education, and Training (Njiwaji, 2006). In this way, the survey taken on the TANF as such presupposes logically the increase of the employment rate. However, this variable can be improved by laying more emphasis on the significance of education.

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In fact, Welfare reform embodied in TANF initiatives needs reauthorizing. Practically, it was first possible by the “enactment of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA, P.L. 109-171)” (Falk, 2007). Granting TANF beneficiaries might get through a qualitatively new way of reforms in order to increase financial participation and sponsorship by means of more opportunities in education. This unperplexed algorithm should be ruminated through further analysis of the main guts contributing to the improvements in this field of social reality.

Analysis of current programs

The constructiveness of the Work First Program is valued by its positive outcomes and higher turnover in Michigan. The idea is that MWAs undertake the responsibility to cope with different organizations in order to process the implementation of TANF families’ support. The process of assisting people in need is carried out by means of three major ways: Work First Agencies, Contractual Arrangements, and Provider Backgrounds (Anderson & Seefeldt, 2000). Touching upon each company’s awareness of TANF makes it possible to incorporate faster tempos of making solutions about the problem.

Based on the survey provided in 1997-98, 33% of Work First Agencies are school-affiliated agencies (Anderson & Seefeldt, 2000). This outlines that education incentives are highly valued in Michigan along with nonprofit initiatives. The researchers underline the idea to enforce job development activities (general and specialized) as the cornerstone for TANF beneficiaries. To say more, it is also stated that the family characterization and its complexity also impact schooling. Thus, it was considered that teen parents living with their own parents could achieve more at school due to parental counseling at large. However, the study reported by Keiser Family Foundation (2003) points out the facts of the decrease in learning among controls.

But a small, post-TANF study from Michigan county found that co-residence of a low-income teen mother with her mother was associated with a decrease in enrollment or graduation from school – even though it may also reduce the financial strain of adolescent parenting (KFF, 2003, p. 3).

Thereupon, the prescriptions concerned with the use of Reed Act funds in job readiness and job orientation were proposed by the State of Michigan government (Njiwaji, 2006). In fact, TANF work requirements are possible owing to Work First Program. Since the moment Bill Clinton signed The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 Americans living in Michigan felt the advantages of TANF prospects in family short-term crisis situations (Seefeldt, Danziger, & Danziger, 2003). The legal basis for driving the policy of guaranteeing entitlement programs in its direct implementation is done.

Thus, theorists and social figures lean toward the practical use of TANF-related initiatives. The population of Michigan felt the coherence between the local and federal governments in their settings and main priorities to be implemented. The thing is that the Family Support Act of 1988 has derived into Jobs Opportunities and Basic Skills and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) (Seefeldt, Danziger, & Danziger, 2003). In turn, such division amplified the need of fostering skills by means of appropriate education and training.

The peculiarity of Michigan and some other states is in the fact that it rejected the “education and training philosophy of JOBS” and instead recognized Work First (Seefeldt, Danziger, & Danziger, 2003, p. 355). It is in most points associated with the industrial character of the area. However, to lead the industry toward effective results, education should possess the first-to-implement priority. In this respect without such prioritization of education, the results on TANF effectiveness leave much to be desired.

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In the fiscal year 2007, it was reported that “about half of adults that left TANF under its strong work-first policy returned within 12 months” (Zedlewski, Holcomb, & Loprest, 2007, p. 7). To omit such convincing barriers, the government of Michigan, as was mentioned above, adopted the set of functional initiatives in 2006. Since 2007 a new program full of “up-front assessment and intensive services” to address these barriers (Zedlewski, Holcomb, & Loprest, 2007, p. 7). Hence, the experts are inclined to move in this way of intensive implementation of new TANF-related welfare incentives.

TANF needs reauthorization as pertained to child-care and adult employment initiatives (Falk, 2007). This idea runs into the claim that educational “patronage” should be estimated as the part of TANF provided across Michigan. In the whole discussion about the optimal way of employing TANF regulatory prospects the concept of self-sufficiency is the paramount (Wolfe, 2002).

Supporting specific policy measure

Taking a look at the description and analysis of Work First Program implemented since 1994 in Michigan, one may state a sort of contradiction. It means that the whole evaluation of the main stimuli incorporated in the concept of TANF incentives is still concerned with the labor predominant position. To designate the more rational approach, it is better to get into the governmental participation in emphasizing the role of education. It is no wonder that the way from poverty and low incomes toward well-off life and success in different affairs might get through education and training. Thus, there should be special standards and their incorporation in the destination and peculiarities of TANF and related programs (JOBS, AFDC, etc.). Hence, the construct of greater economic independency considers TANF beneficiaries to be proficient in the skills and habits stimulated by more attention to education in Michigan.

The logic of Work First is, of course, in its straightforward demand owing to the characteristic feature of the area. It is vital, however, to take notice of the fact that with more abilities and opportunities to learn people could raise their qualifications. The words of former President Clinton could not have come at a better time: “A good education is key to unlocking the promise of today’s economy in the 21st century. Without it, people are at an ever-increasing risk of falling behind” (Wolfe, 2002). It is here that the country first invests in order to get more gains afterwards in the overall prosperity of the nation.

Directly in the state of Michigan the situation with TANF has some distinct coloring pertaining to the aims of these programs. It is normal that PRWORA, TANF, MWAs, JOBS, AFDC and other affiliated programs serve to help people in short-term period of time. However, it should not be based on the long-term perspective, for people would stay the same in turn. Proper education and further trainings should be more anticipated among the employers on the lower stage and the state government on the upper stage. If a company has Work First contacts in various MWAs throughout the state, it serves as a background for inferring the mobility of human resources in accordance with supply and demand ratio (Anderson & Seefeldt, 2000).

Putting forward the educational part of the entitlement programs across Michigan could serve as a recession-proof platform for having more revenues in the state economical balance. The scope of incentives should start with the elementary GED, as it might be supposed. Moreover, education should, of course, be outlined as employment-directed (Njiwaji, 2006). This logical assumption is an ongoing need for people in Michigan with low-incomes. The coordination character of JET is still the major point for entitlement programs. However, there are some limitations of the Work First Program as such. It considers target groups of society evaluated in it. Thus, Family Independence Program (FIP) recipients, Non-Custodial Parents (NCPs), and Non-Cash Recipients (NCRs) are aimed as the most significant groups (Njiwaji, 2006).

Nevertheless, the concept of the program ought to promote assistance to the students in the form of alleged guarantees to be employed thereafter. On the other hand, educational establishments should serve as lodgments for the development of professional relationships. It is here that the problem takes place. This is why officials in Michigan should pay special attention to amending TANF prospects through additionally adopted to Work First program. Higher professional qualification determines national revenues in high-valued spheres of the overall industrial performance of the US implied on the example of Michigan.


To infer, the idea of the paper goes through the contradictory claim that education (not employment) can serve as the paramount factor to increase economical independence of individuals living across Michigan. The discussion and the analysis of normative acts and programs legislated throughout the country and related to TANF was provided by searching for the optimal implementation. Thereupon, the main argument proclaims shifting the focus from work to education for TANF beneficiaries in Michigan participating in the Work First programs would result in greater economic independency. Based on the supporting ideas, this opinion is constructively and practically correct. On the other hand, it needs more time for restructuring the prior aims people seek when living in Michigan. To omit barriers in employment and proper profession, one should rely on the legal acts proved by the Governor and widely accepted within the society. This way it will do the change.

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Anderson, N., & Seefeldt, K. S. (2000). Michigan Program on Poverty and Social Welfare Policy. University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Falk, G. (2007). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Issues for the 110th Congress. Web.

KFF. (2003). The Henry J. Keiser Family Foundation. Web.

Njiwaji, B. C. (2006). Work First Plan Instructions for Fiscal Year (FY) 2007. Web.

Seefeldt, K. S., Danziger, S., & Danziger, S. K. (2003). Michigan’s Welfare System. MICHIGAN AT THE MI L L ENNIUM , 351-370.

Wolfe, L. R. (2002). From Poverty to Self-Sufficiency: The Role of Postsecondary Education in Welfare Reform. Center for Women Policy Studies , 1-74.

Zedlewski, S. R., Holcomb, P., & Loprest, P. (2007). Hard-to-Employ Parents: A Review of Their Characteristics and the Programs Designed to Serve Their Needs. Low-Income Working Families , 9, 1-40.

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