SPOKANE, Wash. - This week Washington State kicked about 5,000 families off of its welfare program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), while those who keep their monthly check from the state will now get less money.
The cuts come at a time when unemployment is still hovering around 9-percent and the need for the financial assistance once available through the TANF program has increased 30-percent in the past two years.
Mary Hayward and her husband were down at WorkSource Spokane looking for work. The couple, unemployed with five mouths to feed, applied for 16 different jobs Thursday. They rely on the state for help.
?Before the cuts it helped us in every way shape and form, we had just enough money to budget for the month, we had everything we needed, now I find myself struggling to find an extra couple dollars for shampoo or a box of diapers,? Hayward said.
Between applying for jobs the family made a stop at the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery to pick up an emergency bag of donated diapers, something they say they cant afford with the recent cuts.
?I never thought I?d find myself going to so many resources for just the basics,? Hayward said.
Mary Ann Murphy is the executive director of Partners with Families and Children and 95-percennt of the people she serves rely on TANF funding.
?It kind of makes me crazy because very often the children we see here are victims of crime and whoever committed this crime against them, we pay more to incarcerate them than we do to continue to support these families and that just seems out of balance,? Murphy said.
As of February 1 about 5,000 families were kicked off the TANF program statewide. Nearly 70,000 families that continue to receive benefits will get 15-percent less, so a family of three who used to get $562 a month now gets $478 and a family of 5 like Mary Hayward's goes from $762 a month to $648.
?Desperate, sad, makes me feel like I can?t really provide for my kids because we relied on that money so much and now it?s gone,? Hayward said.
The families who were cut completely off of welfare are those who have been on TANF for at least 5 years and don?t qualify for an extension. The cuts save the state more than $50 Million.