Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Help for TANF recipients now only one call away

The Legal Aid Society of DC and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP have launched an exciting new project:   the TANF Hotline, 202-887-4170.

There are many reasons why TANF recipients do not comply with the various requirements (child support, work, etc.).   The hotline sponsors, suspecting that many TANF recipients are unaware of their rights to claim good cause, have been unable to do so because of the challenges they are facing in their lives or have been wrongfully denied good cause when they have requested it.   These daily challenges make it difficult to seek legal help.

According to Legal Aid’s blog Making Justice Real, the hotline

is part of a broader project that also includes outreach to caseworkers at other social service agencies in the District.   These outreach efforts provide the opportunity to educate those who work with this client population about TANF rules and the challenges we have seen with sanctions.   The hotline is an integral support for the trainings so that caseworkers can refer TANF recipients to us when appropriate.

Legal Aid is particularly well suited for this training and TA of caseworkers.   When welfare reform was legislated in the District in 1997, Legal Aid was a leader in advocacy for responsible, family-friendly policies and practices.   Their expertise in what the law allowed was a major force in policymaking.   Further, this legal services nonprofit has continued to monitor TANF implementation and has worked with others to ensure the best possible policies and on-the-ground work for those who rely on welfare.

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