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.
Jul 21, 2015 | PERMALINK »
CLASP Comments on U.S. House Discussion Draft on TANF Reauthorization
By Randi Hall
On Friday, July 10, the Subcommittee on Human Resources within the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means released a discussion draft of a bill to reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for fiscal years (FYs) 2016-2020. TANF has been operating under short-term extensions since 2010. The draft includes provisions that are garnering bipartisan support, and the subcommittee may try to move this bill forward before leaving for the August Congressional recess or in early September upon their return.
Last week, CLASP submitted comments on the discussion draft bill. These comments assess whether the proposed changes would address states’ likelihood of accomplishing TANF’s dual goals of alleviating poverty among children and families while creating effective pathways to economic security.
In earlier testimony for the record submitted to the subcommittee in May, CLASP documented the primary reasons for TANF’s ineffectiveness as a safety net:
- The block grant funding structure of TANF means less money in real terms has been available for income support and work programs
- The Work Participation Rate (WPR), which has been the primary performance measure for TANF, does not provide states an incentive to operate effective programs.
We are pleased that the discussion draft bill makes critical changes to improve the WPR, which CLASP has long advocated. The bill would give states greater flexibility to serve individuals with barriers to employment and other disabilities, and it would count more education and training activities toward the WPR to support TANF recipients in obtaining the skills and credentials needed to sustain employment.
However, the bill does not provide states with additional federal resources. Moreover, the elimination of some of the tools that states have previously used to meet the WPR may make it challenging for some states to meet the rate. We remain particularly concerned that the proposed elimination of these WPR tools, when combined with the costs of providing employment services to the neediest participants, may lead states that fail to meet the new rate to respond by restricting access to cash assistance for the most vulnerable families, rather than by expanding services. The draft bill proposes new outcome measures for TANF’s effectiveness in connecting recipients to employment, but not for its effectiveness as a safety net.
Our comments, therefore, provide recommendations for how to build on the discussion draft to strengthen both parts of TANF’s dual mission. We look forward to working with the Congress to improve the bill and ultimately reauthorizing TANF.
To read CLASP’s comments and recommendations on the discussion draft bill, click here.
To read CLASP’s more detailed comments on the proposed employment outcome measures, click here.
TANF 101: Policy Briefs on Temporary Assistance for Needy FamiliesThis 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 »
- Elizabeth Lower-Basch | Jul 27, 2015 Comments on Discussion Draft of TANF Reauthorization Bill
- Elizabeth Lower-Basch | May 15, 2015 Testimony for the Record to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Human Resources on Improving Welfare Programs to Help More Families Find Work and Escape Poverty
- Helly Lee | Feb 09, 2015 WIOA: What Human Service Agencies and Advocates Need to Know
- Elizabeth Lower-Basch | Feb 06, 2013 Goals for TANF Reauthorization
- Lavanya Mohan and Elizabeth Lower-Basch | Sep 05, 2014 No More Double Punishments
- Anna Cielinksi and Elizabeth Lower-Basch | Jul 21, 2015 Comments on Proposed TANF Outcome Measures
- Elizabeth Lower-Basch | Jul 17, 2015 Comments on Discussion Draft of TANF Reauthorization Bill
- Randi Hall | Jul 02, 2015 TANF 101: TANF in the Great Recession
- David Socolow, Elizabeth Lower-Basch, Michelle Derr, and Louisa Erickson | Jun 18, 2015 Webinar: WIOA-Human Services Collaborations: Opportunities and Challenge
- Elizabeth Lower-Basch | May 29, 2015 TANF 101: Work Participation Rate