It has been five years since Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed into law the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Act also known as "welfare reform." Your article "Welfare caseload down 38% since '96, but poverty rate in Utah declined by a paltry 1.6%" (Deseret News, Aug. 16) exposes an important finding.
According to RESULTS, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of families receiving temporary government assistance — 38 percent in Utah and 52 percent nationally.
At the same time, despite a great economy during this period, there was essentially no decrease in the number of families living in poverty. As families have been pushed off the welfare rolls, food banks and other private services have been unable to keep up with the demand. Hunger in Utah and elsewhere is on the rise. As our economy slows, I fear this situation will only get worse.
Next year TANF will have to be reauthorized by Congress. I urge Congress to make actual poverty reduction the objective, not just reducing the number of families receiving public assistance. Only when poverty has been cut significantly can "welfare reform" be called a success.
Salt Lake City