WOMEN AND FEDERAL PROGRAM PARTICIPATION
Federal programs can provide low-income women and their
families with essential help in obtaining food and income support.
The Federal Food Stamp Program helps low-income individuals purchase
food; in 2003, 68 percent of all adult Food Stamp participants were
women. Nearly half (46 percent) of women participants were in the
18-35 age group.
The Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
also plays an important role in serving women and families by providing
supplementary nutrition during pregnancy, the postpartum period,
and while breastfeeding. Most WIC participants (76 percent) are
infants and children; however, the program also serves over 1.8
million women, representing 24 percent of WIC participants. From
1992 to 2003, the number of adult women participating in WIC increased
by 51 percent, and it continues to rise.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Federally- and State-funded,
provides monetary assistance and work opportunities to needy families.
In 1996, TANF replaced the national welfare program known as Aid
to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and related initiatives.
The main goals of TANF are to move recipients into work and to turn
welfare into a program of temporary assistance with a lifetime maximum
enrollment of 5 years.
In Fiscal Year 2002, adult TANF recipients numbered 1.3 million,
of whom 1.2 million (over 90 percent) were women. Over three-quarters
of female TANF recipients were in the 20-39 year age group. Among
adult female TANF recipients, 25 percent were employed, 47 percent
were unemployed and work, and 27.5 percent were not in the labor
force (unemployed and not looking for work.
In 2002, the average amount of monthly assistance provided through
TANF was $418 per family. Of TANF families who had earned income,
the monthly earnings averaged $683.