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New Grants for States to Improve TANF Programs

June 26, 2012

The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced the availability of funds to State agencies in order to improve the integrity of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. State human service agencies can apply for the funds to use data and other promising approaches to prevent overpayments to ineligible families and increase the share of eligible families receiving TANF assistance. According to the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), less than one-third of eligible families are currently receiving TANF. To improve access to TANF assistance for eligible families in need, the notice indicates that States may elect to:

  • Identify very poor families applying for or receiving assistance from other programs [this can include families with children receiving food stamps, families seeking or receiving shelter services or homelessness prevention assistance] who could benefit from TANF assistance;
  • Redesign TANF eligibility and recertification processes; and
  • Implement program changes to reduce administrative case closures, reduce sanctions or work to reduce sanctions through promoting program compliance, and/or adopt outreach strategies to streamline families’ access to assistance.

States may choose to collaborate with other agencies in data sharing to identify families in Homeless Managment Information Systems, food stamp systems, and other administrative systems to identify families that may be eligible for TANF. 

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