Public Benefits

CJP has a long history of work on public benefits policy, dating back to the inception of the program in 1996.  Our advocacy over the years has focused on:

  • Improving access to adult and postsecondary education for single parents receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, allowing them to gain the skills and educational credentials needed for jobs that will lift their families out of poverty.  To that end, CJP has been instrumental in:
    • Assisting with the design, implementation, and improvement of the nationally recognized KEYS program, a partnership between the PA Department of Human Services and the state’s 14 community colleges designed to encourage and assist TANF and SNAP parents to enroll in and complete community college programs;
    • Securing passage of a bill to establish the KEYS program by statutory mandate and to allow KEYS students to count education as their main TANF work activity for 24 months, with the opportunity for unlimited 6-month extensions;
    • Issuance of DHS policy allowing adult education (GED, HSE, ESL, and ABE) to count as a TANF parent’s main work activity;
    • Issuance of DHS policy eliminating a one-year limit on postsecondary education for SNAP-only parents and permitting postsecondary education for these parents on the same basis as TANF parents (see above);
    • Easing of TANF hours verification requirements, rooted, at the federal level, in historic racism.
  • Ensuring access to quality, affordable childcare for low-income working parents and single parents pursuing education or training.
  • Directing the maximum amount of child support collections permitted under federal law to TANF and former TANF parents required to assign their rights to support to the state as a condition of eligibility for benefits.
  • Expanding exemptions and good cause to be excused from the TANF child support cooperation requirement, widely recognized as a key factor in discouraging grandparents raising grandchildren and single parents living in poverty from applying for TANF cash assistance for young children.
  • Effective implementation of the federal TANF Family Violence Option, which allows states to waive TANF work, child support cooperation, and other requirements of the TANF program for victims of domestic violence.
  • Provision of the broadest possible range of health care services available through the federal Medicaid Emergency Medical Assistance program to undocumented immigrants.