I was pleased to see the Sun Journal coverage of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families report released by Maine Equal Justice and the Maine Women’s Lobby, as well as Rachel Lowe’s excellent op-ed on the same subject (Jan. 30). It’s refreshing to see information and opinions about TANF families that look at their real experiences, rather than making villains out of recipients based on anecdotes and stereotypes.

I am very active in my community and frequently come into contact with families who must rely on TANF. I’ve seen their struggles and know how much they want to move off TANF into a job that pays a livable wage.

Sometimes, they successfully make that move. Other times, they think they’ve successfully made the move, only to be hit with another setback such as a layoff, transportation breakdown, or an accident or illness that results in a loss of the job. The survey findings reflect that experience, showing that 97 percent of respondents worked and held an average of three jobs in the past five years.

As lawmakers consider changes to the TANF program, I hope they will look at the facts and develop policies that actually improve a family’s chances of success. That’s an approach that I hope we can all agree on.

Barbara Rankins, Lewiston


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