Thursday, February 24, 2011

Opportunities Made Possible by TANF

By: Peggy Warriner

My story starts as a working taxpayer just trying to make a living and reach the American Dream, and I know firsthand the difficulties we are facing in this economy. I’m the single parent of my eight-year-old daughter, Theresa. In October 2007, I became so physically ill I was unable to work, and after my daughter and I stayed with some family and then a shelter, I had no other choice but to apply for TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), Medicaid and food stamps. With income from TANF, I was able to move into transitional housing, as well as have the time to apply for low-income housing, pay for my car insurance, and get a telephone. I was also able to go to the doctor and attend to my health issues, which in turn allowed me to be more physically able to work and be a better mother. As soon as I received those benefits I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders and I could focus more on meeting our basic needs like food, shelter and personal wellness.

This time on TANF also allowed me to do another very important thing, get back on track and follow the American Dream. I was finally able to attend school full time and became a certified Auto Technician. It isn’t always easy having the Department of Human Services in your business or meeting their requirements, but in the end I am thankful that someone believed in me. I can honestly say that I followed my dreams, and even if I don’t reach them, I won’t forget the accomplishments I have made along the way. I know that the American Recover and Reinvestment Act helped put more money into TANF and other benefits for families, and now that the money is gone, I’m wondering what is going to happen to me and other families like mine. TANF is constantly under attack for cuts to reduce budget shortfalls, but the state should not attempt to balance the budget on the backs of those who have the least.

How we treat those most vulnerable in our society is a test of who we are as people. In order to protect and support those who need it the most we must continue to value and invest in our community benefit programs that help families like mine reach their potential, so we can have a Colorado that does not cast people aside when they need help the most, but provides them time and assistance to get back on their feet and achieve economic security for families.

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