The Sanction Epidemic in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program, a new report by Legal Momentum, demonstrates the serious harm financial sanctions cause Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients. Legal Momentum's report shows that these sanctions are very common and that many are imposed erroneously or for extremely minor violations, such as missing an appointment or failing to file a document. These penalties cause real hardship: sanctioned TANF families often report maternal or child hunger, eviction or homelessness, and lack of medical care.
Though sanctions have contributed to a sharp decline in TANF participation by eligible families, federal TANF policy continues to incentivize states to impose them.
Congress must reform the TANF sanction system when it considers the program for reauthorization.