Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Sanctioning and Child Support Compliance Among Black Families in Illinois

Kathryn Kaplan, Suniya Farooqui, Jamela Clark, Emily Dobson, Rita Jefferson, Niya Kelly, Katherine Buitrago, Kimberly Drew, Aces Lira, Maxica Williams, Taishi Neuman, and Yoojin Kim
December 2022

The Temporary Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) block grant provides eligible families with cash assistance in return for compliance with specific requirements, such as cooperating with the child support program. This article reports on research done in the state of Illinois regarding policies around the receipt of TANF and the barriers to maintaining this benefit. The research found these policies create barriers that disproportionally affect families on the basis of their race. The article recommends changing the goal of the TANF program to helping families thrive instead of punishing them for noncompliance. Several other policy changes are recommended, as well: a move away from the child support cooperation requirement and full pass-through of child support to the custodial parent.