TANF Extension Passes House, Next Senate?

Last week the House of Representatives passed a short term extension of the Temporary assistance for Needy Families (TANF), HR 430. The bill would extend the block grant through June 30, 2019. It is unclear if Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) will let it pass.

TANF block grant has run out despite the full funding of Health and Human Services programs and services. TANF is a block grant entitlement to the states but it has not had a full five year reauthorization since 2006. Since then it has received a series of yearly and sometimes monthly extensions. The latest extension in October allowed funding until December 21. When Congress failed to adopt another extension for the seven appropriations bills that have now currently run out, they also failed to extend TANF.

TANF as an entitlement block grant is paid to the states in quarterly installments and as result states have not received funding for the three month period that started in January.

This past December, Child Trends released a new survey of state child welfare spending based on 2016 state fiscal years. Combined all spending at the federal, state and local level spending is just under $30 billion. Approximately $13.5 billion was from federal funds. As has been consistent with past surveys the single biggest source of funds (55 percent) comes from Title IV-E foster care, adoption assistance and kinship care with TANF providing over 20 percent, SSBG at 11 percent, Title IV-B funds at four percent and Medicaid at six percent.

TANF also supplements child care funding from the $16.5 billion block grant but it also includes a separate $2.7 billion in child care funding that is matched by state child care agencies. That funding also stops.

TANF is also a bigger funder of child-only relative caregiver grants than Title IV-E kinship (Kingap) funding with IV-E covering approximately 24,000 children and TANF covering approximately 400,000 children in child-only families headed up by grandparents and other relatives. Last but not least TANF provides cash assistance to families below poverty. But that is an ever dwindling population due to TANF’s loss of more than 35 percent of its value since 1996.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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