Friday, February 25, 2005

We take action, too

From the UCC Justice and Peace Network:
Dear JPANet Member,

As people of faith and religious commitment, we are called to seek justice for those who are vulnerable or living in poverty. The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families legislation (TANF), which incorporates many features of our public welfare system, is set to expire on March 31, 2005. Congress will begin to mark up the legislation the week of March 7, and, once again, programs meeting human needs are at risk, including funding for child care. Contact your senators and urge them to advocate for a fair and equitable TANF bill that protects vital human services.

TANF was first due to be reauthorized in 2002, but many of the rule changes proposed in the 2002 reauthorization deliberations met with tremendous opposition from members of Congress, the religious community, service providers, and the millions of families for whom TANF is a lifeline out of poverty.

Currently, bipartisan meetings are underway to seek common ground in the Senate Finance Committee, led by the Finance Committee Chair Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and the ranking minority member Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT). The results of these meetings may well determine what will be sent as an early authorization bill to the floor.

There are two critical advocacy issues in these negotiations. The first is to include $8 billion in child care funding voted for in March of last year by the Senate in the bill itself, not as an add-on amendment. This would recognize the critical role of child care in helping families - and especially single mothers - to seek education and workforce advancement. The second is to insure that provisions in the bill regarding services for people with disabilities, parent education and training, work requirements for aid recipients, and immigrant services are strengthened in the TANF bill when it is marked up in the committee.

Contact your senators and urge them to advocate for a fair and equitable TANF bill that protects vital human services. Send an e-mail or fax message by clicking http://www.ucctakeaction.org/ctt.asp?u=3735004&l=80506

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