In every state, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant supports cash assistance and a wide range of other programs and services for low-income children and families.  CLASP conducts policy analysis and provides technical assistance on TANF to state and federal officials and administrators, advocacy organizations, grassroots groups, and research entities.

Aug 5, 2015  |  PERMALINK »

Amidst Reauthorization Discussion, Latest TANF Financial Data Released

By Randi Hall

The Office of Family Assistance in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) financial data for fiscal year 2014, providing new evidence of the wide range of programs and supports funded by both TANF and state spending claimed as maintenance of effort (MOE)For the second consecutive year, combined spending declined on core activities—basic cash assistance, child care (including funds transferred to the Child Care Development Block Grant or CCDBG), and work-related activities. While child care spending increased nationally by $120 million and work-related activities expenditures rose by $134.5 million, spending on basic assistance once again declined by $294.5 million, or 3 percent. 

Together, these categories accounted for just under half of spending in 2014. New reporting requirements, which went into effect for FY 2015, will break down expenditures into more specific categories, providing more ability to understand the ways in which TANF supports activities such as child welfare or pre-kindergarten programs. 

Source: CLASP calculations of FY 2014 TANF Expenditure Data.  * Remaining Categories include Transfers to SSBG, Transportation and Supportive Services, Individual Development Accounts, Non-recurrent Short-Term Benefits, Two-Parent Family Formation, and Assistance & Non-assistance Authorized Under Prior Law.

Source: CLASP calculations of FY 2014 TANF Expenditure Data. * Remaining Categories include Transfers to SSBG, Transportation and Supportive Services, Individual Development Accounts, Non-recurrent Short-Term Benefits, Two-Parent Family Formation, and Assistance & Non-assistance Authorized Under Prior Law.  

This data is timely, as the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee will be considering a TANF reauthorization bill when Congress returns in September.  The discussion draft bill poses an open question about whether to require states to spend at least a minimum share of TANF/MOE spending on core activities including basic assistance, child care, and work-related activities. During the hearing on this bill, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) asked witnesses about a possible floor of 50 percent. While the United States as a whole spent 49.4 percent of TANF and MOE funds on these three core activities, 23 individual states would fall under the 50-percent spending floor if it had been in place in FY 2014. Eight of these states use less than 25 percent of their TANF/MOE funds on core activities.   In our comments on the draft, CLASP advocates for a minimum spending floor to incentivize states to expand access to cash assistance and provide additional resources for workforce training and child care, enabling states to meet new proposed performance goals.

CLASP has updated our TANF 101: Block Grant brief to reflect this data.  We will update it again when poverty and child care spending and participation in CCDBG data are available.

TANF 101: Policy Briefs on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

This series of policy briefs provides basic explanations of the main components of TANF. We hope they will be helpful to policymakers, practitioners, and advocates at all levels of government. READ MORE »
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