Monday, August 16, 2010

Short-term uses for TANF Emergency Funds

Though the deadline for using TANF Emergency Funds is approaching, States still have the opportunity to use these funds for short-term non-recurrent supports that would be critical to struggling families at this time. Authorized through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the TANF Emergency Fund provides additional funding to states for increased expenditures in basic assistance, short-term non-recurrent benefits, and subsidized employment for federal fiscal years 2009 and 2010. Funds can be used to provide any benefits and services to families that comply with the four statutory purposes of the TANF program, which are: 1) to provide assistance to needy families so that children may be care for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives; 2) to end the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage; 3) to prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establish numerical goals for preventing and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies; and 4) to encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

States may submit initial applications for funding from the Emergency Fund for federal fiscal years 2009 and 2010 at any point until September 1, 2010. As of July 22, 2010, 47 states have already been awarded a total of $4.056 billion from the Emergency Fund.

At this stage, states that still have money available should consider using funds for short-term non-recurrent benefits. Some examples of these benefits are supporting families with children going back to school with school supplies, providing for back to work expenses such as tools and uniforms, or assisting with education and trainings costs. States can also provide lump sums to clients needing emergency assistance such as rent & utility payments, shelters, car repairs, and domestic violence services. Recently, ACF also provided guidance for using TANF to support local food banks in the Questions and Answers for the TANF Emergency Fund.

For additional information, please see the following resources:

Ten Ways to Use Short Term TANF Benefits and (Mostly) Federal Money to Help Low-Income Families and Children, NCSL

The Role of TANF as a Safety Net, Statement by Carmen Nazario, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, before the Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, March 11, 2010

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