The number of Oregonians qualifying for family assistance dollars continues to rise as over 500 new families with children access Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to provide the basics like food, housing, and medicine.
The conflicting trend of less state investment in services and rising caseloads puts dangerous pressure on Oregon’s kids. “We expect the numbers to get worse before they get better. (The Department of Human Services) is prepared for even more people to apply for assistance over the next few months, and we expect them to need help for longer periods of time than in the past,” said Jerry Waybrant, Assistant Deputy Director at DHS. He continues, “Poverty puts an incredible strain on the families who are struggling to meet their basic needs and keep their families safe. TANF helps the state’s most vulnerable families with children meet those basic needs.” Two out of every three Oregonians receiving basic assistance to help families make ends meet, is under the age of 18.
“Communities are only as stable as the families that live in them, and the fact that more families struggle each month to meet their basic needs is concerning to all of us,” says Ryan Fisher of the Human Services Coalition of Oregon.
In February, the legislature will reconvene, and the top priority will be to re-balance a budget further eroded by shrinking revenue forecasts. A bi-partisan legislature will be
forced to choose between making further cuts to family services or finding a way to continue to protect our children, families, and communities that are bearing the brunt of the recession.
A full report of the increase in Oregon families qualifying for assistance can be found here: www.oregon.gov/DHS/assistance/data/branch_bk/flash.pdf.
Source: the Human Services Coalition of Oregon (HSCO www.oregonhsco.org) and the Invest in Oregon Alliance