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Addiction Advocates Push for TANF Reauthorization

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Drug-policy advocates are pushing for passage of a bill in the U.S. Senate that would make allowances for addiction treatment under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly reported Oct. 13.

Currently, addiction treatment and other rehabilitative activities do not qualify as work requirements under the TANF program. However, the bills to reauthorize the TANF program through 2008 approved by House and Senate committees make allowances for treatment.

The House bill would allow individuals receiving TANF benefits to use three of every 24 months of work requirements for addiction treatment. The Senate bill, called the “Personal Responsibility and Individual Development for Everyone Act” (PRIDE), allows addiction treatment to count towards work requirements for six months within a two-year period.

A related Senate bill, called the “Pathways to Independence Act of 2003,” would enable states to allow TANF recipients to continue participating in treatment and job-readiness activities if they are unable to satisfy work requirements after the six months because of a disability.

Jenny Collier, J.D., director of national policy and state strategy for the Legal Action Center, said PRIDE and the additional treatment provision would give states the “ultimate flexibility that really reduces barriers to moving people from welfare to work.”

The Senate is expected to take up the reauthorizing legislation early next year.

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