Millions in TANF dollars are flowing to crisis pregnancy centers that mislead women.
Missouri has a poverty problem.
Almost 15 percent of the state’s residents live under the federal poverty line, a bare-bones guideline that means existing on $20,160 or less a year for a family of three. One in five Missouri children lives in poverty. It ranks 30th in the country for its share of poor people.
That kind of destitution can make it difficult to get enough food to eat. Missouri has the second-highest share of residents who have very low food security in the country. Almost 8 percent of residents fall into this category; only Arkansas has more people struggling to afford food.
In such a climate, it might be reasonable to expect state lawmakers to be focused on how to alleviate economic suffering. But over the past five years, the number of people in Missouri receiving benefits from its welfare program has plummeted, falling by more than 100,000 people since 2011. The most recent monthly statistics show that only 37,486 people were getting cash assistance.
That’s thanks to harsh measures lawmakers have put in place for those who need some help to get by. Lawmakers have cut people off after 45 months no matter whether they have a job or source of income — the federal cutoff is five years. They’ve also forced recipients to create “personal responsibility plans” outlining work activities with the ability to lose benefits if they go off course.
States have gotten a fixed amount of money from the federal government to run their welfare programs since 1996, or when welfare reform turned it into the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. So when there are fewer people getting cash benefits, that means a state has more money left over that it can put toward other purposes. And in Missouri, one big purpose consuming the funding has been something that might seem unrelated to alleviating poverty: crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), or organizations that run with the express purpose of discouraging women from getting abortions, often through misleading them or flat out lying to them.( Collapse )SOURCE