The Free Press quotes, cites research by Butler in article on TANF

In an article on changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, The Free Press quoted and cited research by Sandy Butler, a professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Maine. The LePage administration set a 60-month lifetime limit on receiving TANF benefits in 2011, generating a surplus of funds. The Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee has been been conducting an investigation into how these funds are being allocated, after it was revealed in 2017 that the DHHS was unlawfully using TANF funds for elderly and people with disabilities rather than to aid low-income families as the fund requires, according to the article. Butler is the only one to have closely studied the effects on families who lost TANF benefits after the establishment of the lifetime cap. Butler said at a July 26 public hearing that respondents to her survey faced barriers to employment including health problems, the need to take care of sick family members, low education levels, lack of transportation and scarcity of jobs. The median income of respondents was $260 per month, 16 percent of the federal poverty level. And 42 percent of respondents had no income. Two out of five parents surveyed had a disability limiting their ability to work, and one in four had a child or other dependent with a disability. Butler’s study found that after losing benefits, 70 percent of those surveyed went to food banks, more than one in three had utilities cut off and one in five was evicted, The Free Press reports. “Five years have passed since these interviews. I do not know of any more recent attempts to find out how the families who have lost TANF assistance are faring. We know from DHHS’ own reports that most are not working consistently, nor receiving extensions. We know we have an extremely high rate of food insecurity and child poverty increasing,” said Butler. “I believe we have failed one of the most vulnerable populations in Maine.”