Torres Martinez Chair: Tribe makes strides on TANF program
"There are many difficulties Torres-Martinez Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) faces in taking America's native families from survival to success. The common factors of poverty, poor education and unemployment combined with historical trauma are foremost causes for many American Indian families' failure to persevere.

Native Americans endure numerous symptoms of historical trauma, among these, the highest incidences of teen suicide, domestic violence, and alcohol and substance abuse rates that are up to three times higher than the national average. Native communities commonly possess the highest rates of poverty, single-parent households, disability caused by diabetes, fetal alcohol syndrome, child obesity, smoking and the lowest rate of achieving higher education in our nation. Many experience a culture clash with the majority culture that displaces traditional family and spiritual values — the result being impoverished individuals that spiral through poverty and misfortune often experiencing internalized oppression, depression, negative belief systems and a lack of hope for the future that has beaten down many to the point of just giving up. This is sadly recognized by our teen suicides. Yet, among this adversity, Torres-Martinez Tribal TANF produces achievement through motivation, counseling, rehabilitation, recovery, education, training, employment and most importantly instilling a belief in self-worth, tradition and hope.

Whether it's a parent in high school later leaving us with a bachelor's degree, a single parent needing a GED and then becoming a nurse, cosmetologist or mechanic, a mother entering recovery then regaining child custody, a homeless family finding a stable home, or a student improving her grades, victory happens at Torres-Martinez.

The culturally sensitive services of Torres-Martinez Tribal TANF are not provided through a cold thick glass window where people in need are further victimized by taking a number and waiting for hours. Our TANF offices are places where people are greeted by name and assisted by staff members that are commonly available at a moment's notice. Employees are often stakeholders within our community and share in the success of a family's path to wellness. In the end, it is “Our People Helping Our People” that make us successful."

Get the Story:
Maxine L. Resvaloso: Tribal welfare program making strides (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 5/18)

Another Opinion:
Editorial: Using grants to pay a fine is no penalty at all (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 5/18)

Special Report:
Aid to Indian Country: A Desert Sun investigation (The Palm Springs Desert Sun January 2010)

Related Stories:
Rep. Bono Mack 'outraged' with Torres Martinez TANF issue (5/11)
Torres Martinez Tribe to pay fine with reduction in grant (04/26)
Editorial: A long way to go on Torres Martinez TANF probe (4/2)
Lawmakers still looking at Torres Martinez TANF program (3/26)
Torres Martinez Tribe behind on $1.54M fine for TANF (2/8)
Rep. Bono Mack calls for probe of tribal TANF program (2/5)
Editorial: Congress should investigate tribal TANF now (1/20)