Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Detailed Summary of H.R. 4090, Reauthorization of the TANF Program
As Approved by The House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee on 4/18/02
- Social Services Block Grant
- Child Care
- Child Well-Being
- Work Requirements
- Individual Assessments/Plans
- Time Limits
- Child Welfare
- Super Waiver Authority
- Child Support
- Maintains the current TANF funding level of $16.5 billion, plus the supplemental grant of $319 million a year to 17states.
- Redesigns the existing two state bonuses. Currently, $200 million is provided to states in the form of a high performance bonus. This bonus has been split between many states based on their accomplishments in moving people to work and reaching other targets. A second $100 million bonus has been awarded to the top 4 or 5 states that reduced the out-of-wedlock birth rates for the entire state population. H.R. 4090 eliminates the $100 million out-of-wedlock bonus fund and reduces the high performance bonus to $100 million.
- H.R. 4090 creates a new a $100 million competitive grant, Healthy Marriage Promotion program. Funds can be used for: 1) ad campaigns on the value of marriage and the skills needed to have a stable and healthy marriage, 2) high school classes on the value of marriage, relationship skills and budgeting, 3) marriage skill classes for non-married women or men, 4) training for engaged couples, 5) training for married couples, 6) divorce reduction, marriage mentoring, and programs to reduce disincentives to marriage in means-tested programs. To receive funds under this new program, a state must provide a 50% match and can use its federal TANF funds for the match.
- H.R. 4090 also creates a new $20 million fatherhood program. Competitive grants are awarded to local entities with matches of at least 80% in federal dollars. Funds can be used for: (1) responsible parenting; (2) enhancing the ability of low-income unemployed fathers to provide support; (3) improving fathers ability to manage family business affairs through education, mentoring, household management, budgeting, etc.; and (4) encouragement of healthy marriages through premarital education, premarital inventories, marital therapy, divorce education and mediation and relationship enhancement programs including those designed to reduce child abuse and domestic violence. Applicants must describe how they will address child abuse and domestic violence and how they will coordinate with state and local entities on these issues.
- The existing TANF high performance bonus is reduced to a $100 million and is renamed the Bonus to Reward Employment Achievement. This bonus is currently funded at $200 million per year with a complex formula set up to measure job placement, job advancement, and access to certain support services such as child care. There is no limit on the number of states that can earn a portion of this bonus. H.R. 4090 reduces funding and redesigns the formula for awarding these bonuses.
Social Services Block Grant
- Funding for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) remains at its current level of $1.7 billion. The bill will restore state's ability to transfer 10% of their federal TANF funds into SSBG.
- In 1996, SSBG was cut from $2.8 billion to $2.38 billion as a way to offset the costs of the 1996 TANF act. Under that 1996 law it was to be restored to $2.8 billion by 2003. Congress has consistently reduced funding. SSBG is currently funded at $1.7 billion.
- H.R. 4090 includes no increases in child care funding. Annual funding for the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) would remain at $2.7 billion in mandatory funds. Discretionary funds are under the jurisdiction of the House Education and Workforce Committee and are being considered as part of H.R. 4092. (A summary of that legislation can be found on the CWLA website).
- States are allowed to transfer up to 50% of their TANF block grant into the Child Care and Development Fund. An increase from the current 30%.
- The legislation clarifies that child care that is paid directly out of TANF is not considered "assistance." Under current law, child care paid for with TANF funds had been considered assistance, which was than counted against a TANF recipient's 5-year limit on benefits. If a state spends TANF funds on child care, there is no requirement to include a set-aside of funds for quality initiatives as required under CCDF.
- The legislation also clarifies that any TANF funds a state carries over from the previous fiscal year can be spent on either assistance or services. Current regulations limit TANF funds carried over from previous fiscal years to be spent only on assistance.
- With these two changes included in H.R. 4090 (definition of "assistance" and the ability to spend previous fiscal year TANF funds on assistance or non-assistance), states will have an incentive to spend TANF funds directly on child care. By doing so they can avoid the current child care law requirement to set-aside 4% for quality or the child care requirement that funds be spent within 3 years.
- Current TANF law includes four purposes that determine how states can spend federal and state TANF funds: (1) provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or the homes of relatives; (2) end the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage; (3) prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establish numerical goals for prevention and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies; and (4) encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families. H.R. 4090 amends the introductory section to the four purposes of the act to state that the overall purpose is to "to improve child well-being." The fourth purpose is amended to emphasize "strengthening healthy two-parent marriages and encourage responsible fatherhood."
- States are required to include performance goals. States would be required to indicate how they address each of the purposes of the TANF law. States will have specific numerical goals they must achieve. Included in these goals and outcomes are employment retention and advancement, youth development, use of faith-based organizations, and program integration. While the legislation requires states to measure outcomes for the four purposes it does not specify how the states measure child well-being.
- The legislation requires states to impose what is referred to as a full "check" sanction. In effect, these are "full family" sanctions. If individuals fail to meet certain work and TANF requirements the entire family benefit must be eliminated at least for a period of time. This full family sanction provision requires states that currently impose a partial sanction on families (reducing their monthly cash assistance) for refusal to meet certain TANF requirements, to cut-off all benefits to the sanctioned family. If an adult fails to meet TANF activities and requirements partially or for one month, then there must be at least a partial reduction in benefits. If the individual fails to meet all TANF requirements for two months or more, then the entire family has to be cut off from receiving any federal or state TANF assistance for at least one month.
- As of August 2000, 13 states had implemented a full family sanction policy for first instances of noncompliance. Thirty-four states imposed a full family sanction only as an ultimate sanction. The remaining 16 states do not impose a full cut off of TANF benefits for sanctioned families.
- Current law requires states to have 50% of their caseload in federally defined work. In addition, if a state chooses to serve two-parent families, these families are calculated separately and a state must have 90% of these families in federally defined work. H.R. 4090 will increase the 50% work requirement by 5% a year until it reaches 70% in 2007. No separate calculation is required for two-parent families.
- Under current law, states can reduce both of these work requirements when they receive a caseload credit. That credit has been based on how much a state's cash assistance caseload had dropped since 1995. H.R. 4090 modifies the current caseload reduction credit which is based on how much a state's caseload has decreased since 1995. The credit for 2003 would be based on the drop in caseload between 1996 and 2003. For 2004 it would be based on the drop in the caseload from 1998. Eventually the credit would be based on the caseload that existed four years earlier. The formula is intended to be an incentive for states to continually reduce the number of families receiving cash assistance.
- Currently, TANF recipients must work 30 hours per week. Mothers with children under age six are required to work 20 hours. An individual meets this goal only if they are engaged in activities that are defined as "work." H.R. 4090 requires TANF recipients to be engaged 40 hours a week in work and activity. Twenty-four hours of that 40-hour total must be in work. Substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation services, work-related education or training or job search for three months over a two-year period can be counted as work. For the remaining 16 of the 40 hours, an individual must be engaged in activities defined by the state. There will no longer be a reduced work week (of 20 hours) for mothers with children under six.
- The bill proposes no changes to current law allowing states to exempt 20% of their caseload from the work requirements.
- The requirement to have an individual assessment is replaced with a requirement that every family have a self-sufficiency plan developed by the state.
- The Family Self-Sufficiency Plan would specify appropriate activities, including direct work activities; require, at a minimum, each member of the family who is work-eligible to participate in these activities; monitor the participation of these family members; regularly review the self-sufficiency plan; and revise the plan as appropriate.
- The legislation is unclear as to whether a "family or individual assessment" would be included as part of any Family Self-Sufficiency Plan.
- The bill proposes no changes to the current law, which dictates that no adult may receive more than 5 years of federally funded TANF assistance.
- H.R. 4090 does include a section on child welfare that extends HHS's authority to approve child welfare waivers through 2007. That authority was due to expire this year. The legislation provides that: 1) no limits would b placed on the number of waivers states could receive; 2) no limits would be placed on the number of individual waivers one state could receive and; 3) no limits would be placed on the types of child welfare waivers HHS approves. The bill also streamlines the process for consideration of amendments to and extensions of demonstration projects requiring waivers.
- The bill does not make changes to the current eligibility link between AFDC standards (as of July 16,1996) and Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance. To determine Title IV-E eligibility, a state must look back to the AFDC rules that existed on July 16, 1996. A TANF reauthorization bill introduced by Senator Rockefeller in the Senate (S. 2052) does make a change allowing states the option to align their Title IV-E eligibility with their TANF eligibility standards. In most states, this could result in more children becoming eligible for Title IV-E.
Super Waiver Authority
- H.R. 4090 also adopts a proposal from the Administration that grants broad authority to the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Labor to waive any rule in any program (except Medicaid). This waiver proposal is expected to be also extended to the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Education, and Agriculture.
- This "super-waiver" proposal does not impose any significant limitations on the types of rules states that can apply to be waived, except that a waiver must not result in higher federal costs than would be incurred under standard federal law. This stands in stark contrast to most waiver provisions of current law, which include certain safeguards. States are only required to show that the waiver would further the purposes of all of the programs involved. If the Secretary of the department did not respond within 90 days, the waiver would be automatically approved.
- Unlike past waiver policies that allowed states to operate demonstration projects to test the efficacy of new initiatives or alternative approaches, there would be no requirement that these waivers have a research objective or be subject to an independent evaluation.
- Under this super waiver proposal, a state could propose a block grant that could include child welfare, food stamps, housing, education and other programs.
- Currently, states reimburse the federal government for a share of child support that is collected for families on TANF assistance. Under current law, when states collect past child support for a family on assistance, the recovered child support must be used (in part) to reimburse the federal government for past assistance costs. States also take a share of the recovered child support to reimburse their own treasuries. States can pass-through a minimal amount to the family on assistance without being required to reimburse the federal government.
- H.R. 4090 allows states to increase the amount of child support funds they pass through to a family by allowing states to increase from $50 to $100 funds passed through to the family. States will not be required to reimburse the federal government for its share of this cost. To qualify, a state must disregard the increased child support passed through to the family in calculating a family's assistance grant level-not reduce the assistance grant by the amount of increased child support received by the family.
- States are also encouraged to pass through all child support to families that have left TANF. The federal government will share in this cost. The legislation also includes numerous provisions that will allow greater intercepts or recoupment of past due child support through changes to the immigration, veterans, and Social Security systems.
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