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Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) Reform

  • Seriously underfunded. Benefits have not been increased to keep pace with inflation resulting in a significantly reduced value for those in need.
  • Serving a shrinking percentage of the people in Washington who live in poverty.
  • 61,000 TANF recipients at present in Washington State
Who Gets TANF Benefits

SB 5214 Scheduled for executive session – Senate Ways and Means – 2/18/21 (= a fiscal bill [necessary to implement the budget] à more time for consideration.)

  • Extends eligibility period for TANF benefits: When the state unemployment rate is at or above seven percent, the Department of Social and Health and Services may not count that time toward the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipient’s cash grant towards the 60-month lifetime limit.
  • Provides that the bill applies retroactively as of March 1, 2020 as well as prospectively.
  • Current bill does not increase grants, which remain significantly below rates established in 1997 (after adjusting for inflation) when the program was created to replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). 10%-15% increase was being considered.

Consolidated Emergency Assistance (HB 1151) –

Consolidated Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP): Provides emergency cash assistance to qualifying families with children. The CEAP benefits are limited to one time within any 12-month period and are intended to alleviate emergent conditions resulting from insufficient income and resources to provide for food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and other necessary items and services. Families must meet income requirements and be ineligible for other cash assistance programs in order to receive benefits.

  • Effects of HB 1151
    • benefits may be provided more than once within a 12-month period when directed by the Governor.
    • Provides a one-time cash benefit and transitional food assistance to certain qualifying households (not receiving TANF).
    • Department of Social and Health Services ability to adopt a standard for shelter at no cost is removed.
    • New process: “Broadly used national standard” to revise the study of living costs that determines the standards of need for cash assistance. Standards of need must be updated by 1 July 2022.

Cash and Food Assistance.

  • Households with children that are receiving food benefits, and are not simultaneously receiving TANF, are eligible to receive a one-time cash benefit in the final month of eligibility when the household’s food benefits terminate.
    • Termination may be due to exceeding income limits or if the household voluntarily leaves the program.
    • The amount of the cash benefit is determined by available funds appropriated for this purpose. Households that receive the cash benefit are also eligible to receive five months of TFA (Temporary Food Assistance).
  • These provisions are null and void if specific funding for these purposes is not included in the omnibus Appropriations Act by June 30, 2021.
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