Policy & Practice | Spring 2023

funding amounts and flexibilities allowed to states. They should also consider other federal programs like the Family First Prevention Services Act or the recent Child Care Tax Credit for additional opportunities to expand cash assistance. It’s time to take serious action to advocate for the prevention we know works. “It’s timely now that we pause and examine what the safety net looks like in each state. Take all the benefits together and cost of living into consid eration,” said Motoyama-Johnson. Specific questions to consider: l What other federal or state programs are supporting families alongside TANF and SNAP? l Are any local agencies piloting inno vative guaranteed income or other cash assistance programs that show impact? l What are some examples of suc cessful collaboration across these major programs? “We have enough evidence to make policy decisions based on the existing body of literature,” said Motoyama Johnson. “We don’t need to wait a

moment longer to change policies in a way that are more generous and increase access for families who are really in need of support.”

This limits academics’ ability to analyze and provide guidance on cross-system impacts. n Support policy with technology. Any technology that allows for greater access to benefits, and an understanding of what benefits a citizen may qualify for, will likely have a positive impact. Think client portals like MNbenefits, or data sharing and workflow automa tion between programs like SNAP Infants, and Children. Ginther noted that technology must be designed thoughtfully—for example, portals should be mobile-friendly to truly provide enhanced access. n Offer more generous, stable benefits that sufficiently support families. TANF payments vary from $250 to nearly $1,000 across states. Technology that reduces barriers to applying won’t impact outcomes if the benefits are still restrictive and unstable. n Revisit program structure. The federal government should re-examine both the block grant and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women,

Laura Haffield is the Director of Advocacy at Northwoods.

Reference Notes 1. Ginther, D., & Motoyama-Johnson, M. (2022). Associations between state TANF policies, child protective services involvement, and foster care placement. Health Affairs, 41 (12), 1744–1753. https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2022.00743 2. Johnson-Motoyama, M., Ginther, D. K., Oslund P., Jorgenson, L., Phillips, R., …Sattler, P. L. (2022). Association between state SNAP policies, child protective services involvement, and foster care in the US, 2004–2016. JAMA Network Open. https://doi.org/10.1001/ jamanetworkopen.2022.21509 3. Child Welfare Information Gateway. The national incidence study (NIS). https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/ systemwide/statistics/nis/ 4. Child Welfare Information Gateway.

(2020). The importance of a trauma informed child welfare system. Issue Briefs . https://www.childwelfare.gov/ pubpdfs/trauma_informed.pdf

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Spring 2023 Policy & Practice

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