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Federal jobs program’s funding set to expire
Congress must reauthorize TANF by Sept. 30
 
Published Tuesday, September 28, 2010 5:02 pm
by Sommer Brokaw, For The Charlotte Post

Amanda Miller works as a medical records clerk at Resource Solutions Inc., a small private company that offers mental health services, to pay the bills and put food on the table.
PHOTO/SOMMER BROKAW
Amanda Miller, a medical records clerk at Reource Solutions Inc. in Charlotte, found work through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. TANF's funding is scheduled to expire Sept. 30.

Miller’s job is one of many that are at-risk if Congress does not act by Sept. 30 to reauthorize funding the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Fund. This fund provided North Carolina with $11.4 million for a subsidized jobs program that allowed for public dollars to go to private companies that hire low-income workers. 

“This program has caused me to maintain self sufficiency and pay my rent and do things I need for my children,” said Miller, a single mother of 1-year-old and four-month-old girls. “Without this job, I don’t know where we’d be. We’d probably be on the verge of being evicted from my apartment because this is how I’ve been paying my bills. This has been my livelihood.”
The TANF Emergency Fund resulted in 400 jobs in North Carolina with a projected goal to create 500 jobs. In addition to jobs program, TANF Emergency Funds provided North Carolina with critical funding to child care subsidies ($23.6 million), More at Four ($30.5 million), and Work First family assistance ($9.7 million).

Taken together, these programs serve to support working families and provide job opportunities for low-income adults.  According to demographic figures from Alexandra Sirota, policy analyst and N.C. Budget and Tax Center, the majority of people served in Mecklenburg through the TANF Emergency Fund – almost 90 percent of 400 clients – were black.

“This is a program that we think is very important at a time when job growth has been very slow,” Sirota said.  “The opportunity for public dollars to go to employees that are hiring low-income workers requires an important funding base. Studies have shown that not only creates jobs, but also economic opportunities that spur business growth and North Carolina clearly needs more opportunities to grow our businesses.”

Without an extension, the subsidized jobs program in North Carolina end on Sept. 30. All county programs received notice in July to end spending on the program in preparation for the end of the federal program and already five programs have shut down.

Stephanie Tyson, executive director, Resourceful Solutions, who has two TANF employees, including Miller said that she hates that it could be expiring soon.

“One of them worked at McDonald’s. We taught her how to answer the phone, how to file, so she can leave any day and be an administrative assistant on the corporate level. The other young lady worked in retail,” Tyson said. “One has been with me since February of this year, and the other young lady came around April. So it has been a very good program.”

“We hired two employees temporarily through [TANF subsidized jobs program] The Opportunity Project for the summer. One worked in an administrative capacity in our transitional housing programs, and the other worked as a youth program’s assistant,” said Kirsten Sikkelee, chief executive officer of YWCA Central Carolinas. “Not only did their excitement and enthusiasm about being a part of the team benefit both the YWCA and the people we serve, but they clearly felt it was a huge benefit to them after what had been a pretty disappointing and fruitless job search.”

Sikkelee said the administrative hire had the skills to do some projects that had been put on the back burner because they weren’t top priority. The youth programs hire worked daily with a group of 30 young people, ages 5 to 12.

“I do feel this program is still needed. I think that talented and committed people are still struggling to find employment, and this is a wonderful way to keep food on their tables, and have them be part of a work environment,” she said. “We know it’s easier to find work when you’re working. Your networks are expanded, your confidence is higher, and you are there when opportunities are presented.”

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