TANF Reauthorization: Reports and Caseload Updates

  • A new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows a continuous decline under TANF benefits.
  • The TANF “misery index” shows the sum of the percent of poor families (or children) not receiving TANF, and the percent gap between TANF benefits and the poverty level. This indicates how well or badly TANF is performing in alleviating family poverty. Our new report demonstrates the TANF misery index has increased substantially since TANF’s enactment to replace AFDC in 1996.
  • The federal government recently released data showing that 3.69% fewer families received TANF in December 2011 than December 2012. The number of children receiving TANF in December 2011 (3,373,654) was just 20.5% of the number of poor children in 2010 (16,401,000). While the poverty figures for 2011 haven’t been released yet, child poverty likely increased in 2011.
  • TANF’s federal authorization was extended to September 30, 2012 by the same legislation that extended the payroll tax cut. TANF’s authorization must be extended again before the November elections, so there is a possibility of additional pre-election cuts and restrictions.
  • Fewer families received TANF in June 2011 than in January 2011. This decrease was more likely due to stricter state eligibility and access policies than to decreased need.
  • The number of families receiving Food Stamps in 2010 increased over 15 percent, but the number receiving TANF increased less than one percent.
  • In 1996, the federal government "ended welfare as we know it," replacing Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program. Welfare Reform at Age 15: A Vanishing Safety Net for Women and Children, a new report by Legal Momentum, demonstrates that TANF has shredded the safety net.
  • Temporary Assistance to Need Families (TANF) caseloads declined in the second quarter of 2010 as they had in the first quarter. Cumulatively, over these two quarters caseloads fell in thirty five states and the national caseload decreased by 1.8%.
  • Despite continued exceptionally high poverty and unemployment rates, the national TANF caseload declined in 34 states and nationally by about 1.4% between December 2009 and March 2010.
  • A new report by Legal Momentum demonstrates the serious harm financial sanctions cause Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients. These penalties are very common and many are imposed erroneously or for extremely minor violations, burdening the nation’s neediest families with even greater hardship.
  • The number of families receiving TANF has increased just 12% since the recession began in December 2007. By contrast, the number of households receiving Food Stamp benefits increased 48% from December 2007 to February 2010. These figures underscore the urgent need for federal action to make TANF more accessible and responsive.
  • According to an unprecedented new national survey of service providers, problems plague the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, effectively stopping victims of abuse from accessing help when they need it most.