TANF Funding Reduction: Harder Times Are Coming

Posted by: Teaway Zehyoue Collins

For the first time since its creation in 1996, Congress has reduced funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. TANF, popularly known as welfare, is administered on the state level by the Department of Children & Family Services and provides monthly cash assistance to over 11,000 low-income individuals and families in Louisiana that cannot find employment and do not qualify for unemployment insurance. Individuals on TANF can receive cash assistance for up to 60 months for child care expenses, utility expenses, and services for job skills and educational training.

In response to the deepest economic decline since the Great Depression that increased unemployment and poverty across the country, Congress created the TANF Emergency Fund to provide additional funding to states. The federal government provided $222 million of TANF funding to Louisiana in both FY2009 and FY2010.  Recently President Obama and Congress extended federal funding for TANF through the end of FY2011 with Louisiana receiving $175.2 million, $46.8 million, or 21 percent, less than the year before.

Louisiana is in the midst of a fiscal crisis of historic proportions.  Unemployment is up to 8.1 percent, and the state faces a $1.6 billion shortfall in the next fiscal year that starts July 1, 2011.  These reductions in TANF funding will make it even more difficult for the state to provide the support by Louisiana’s poor and unemployed to weather this economic downturn.

They include details about safety-net programs like Medicaid, tax credits for low-income workers and educational scholarships and help promote a better understanding of how safety-net programs affect different communities across our state.
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