Proposed TANF Regulations Would Target Spending on Families with Low Incomes

By Ashley Burnside

The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed new rules for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant program. These rules aim to ensure that TANF funds reach families with low incomes and are used for activities related to TANF’s goals. The proposed changes include:

  • Setting a maximum income limit of 200 percent of the federal poverty level for “needy” families, aligning the income limit with the Social Services Block Grant Program’s statutory limit.
  • Implementing a “reasonable person standard” to determine if expenditures are in line with TANF’s purposes, preventing unrelated expenses from being funded.
  • Excluding third-party donations from counting toward states’ TANF maintenance of effort (MOE) spending requirements.

These changes seek to ensure that more TANF dollars go to supporting families with low incomes, as the current flexibility allows states to allocate funds to unrelated programs and higher-income families. The proposed rules are open for public comment until December 1, 2023.

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