The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) five-year reauthorization ran out in FY 2010 but it is currently extended until the end of FY 2016 on September 30. Since it expired Congress and the Administration have agreed to a series of short term extensions ranging from a few months to a year at a time.

The Administration proposes several changes and enhancements for the first time since the reauthorization expired. The Administration is seeking an increase in the base grant of $16.5 billion which was set in 1996. Inflation has eroded its worth by more than 30 percent. In addition, Congress dropped a supplemental funding source that was part of the 1996 law that had provided approximately $300 million to 17 states. The Administration now wants to increase funding by $750 million this year. In addition, they are seeking a new $473 million in a jobs and work proposal and $100 million for a two-generation proposal. Getting more funding for TANF (mandatory funds) will be a heavy lift but there could be some common ground in other areas.

In their budget proposal the Administration endorses several proposals that had garnered some bipartisan support in the House of Representatives in the past year. These proposals include adding the reduction of poverty to the purposes of the TANF act and restricting how states calculate third-party contributions as part of their maintenance-of-effort state spending requirements. The Administration also proposes that state be required to spend no less than 55 percent of federal and state TANF funds on the core services: cash assistance, child care and work activities. This proposal is an attempt to address the ever-dwindling use of TANF for cash assistance and other services and to place limits on just how much of the TANF program can be spent on other unrelated core state budget activities including some child welfare services.

These were ideas {see children’s Monitor Members Newsletter for more}