GardenShare

GardenShare

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

TANF SPENDING--A CAUTIONARY TALE OF BLOCK GRANTS

Two key purposes of welfare reform are providing a temporary safety net for families and preparing recipients for work.  Yet nationally, states use just 51% of their combined TANF block grant and state funds for basic assistance, work-related activities, work supports/supportive services, and child care, the latest data (2015) show. States now spend only 25% of their TANF funds on basic assistance to help very poor families care for their children and meet very basic needs, such as shelter.  When TANF began 20 years ago, basic assistance was the single biggest use of TANF funds in all states. And, not only has state spending on basic assistance dropped, but the TANF block grant has lost a third of its value since its creation due to inflation.  After adjusting for inflation, state spending on basic assistance has fallen by 62% since 1997. States spend little to help families work, using only 10% of their TANF funds for work activities and supports, and they use only 17% of their TANF funds to help low-income working families afford child care.  

Source: Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, 1/10/17, TANF Spending