The Urban Institute, in collaboration with the National Association for Welfare Research and Statistics, brought together experts with different perspectives to discuss their thoughts on successful strategies for reducing poverty.

The panel included Uma Ahluwalia, Department of Health and Human Services, Montgomery County, Maryland, Heather Hahn, Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population, Urban Institute, Angela Rachidi, American Enterprise Institute, Sisifo Taatiti, TANF program manager, Utah and Anne Kim, Washington Monthly, as moderator.

Much of the discussion focused on TANF which just past its twenty-year anniversary and is the focus of much analysis in the last month (see event this week below) but panelists also attempted to focus more broadly beyond that one-time cash assistance program.

There was a great deal of discussion and focus on how to strengthen employment, families and family structure and education levels.  Some of that discussion wrapped around what has or has not been accomplished through TANF block grant.  Heather Hahn talked about efforts through TANF in Utah.  She also suggested a strategy for the future should include greater dissemination and evaluation of effective strategies that move adults to work.  Uma Ahluwalia, described the changing demographics of Montgomery County Maryland, its increasing diversity and some challenges.  She discussed efforts in that county to better coordinate services and blend funding to better address a range of critical issues that families in poverty may face.  Along with other panelists she discussed a cross section of issues that can and does have an impact on a family’s poverty status including the presence of domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health and child welfare issues.

The event titled, Reducing Poverty and Increasing Opportunity: Envisioning the Next Twenty Years can be viewed online.