PUBLIC BENEFITS: TANF


The center focuses on health care access, immigrants' access to services, food and nutrition, the state's eligibility and enrollment system, and TANF.

Recent TANF Publications

ARRA TANF Funds (03/11/2009)
Testimony to Select House Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization regarding Texas' use of federal TANF funds and opportunities to provide more assistance to low-income families.

Federal Economic Recovery Legislation and Texas (02/13/2009)

Today, Congress released the details of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which provides $789 billion to stimulate the economy. Many of these measures will also help protect vulnerable Texans during this economic downturn. To take full advantage of the benefits in the recovery package and set our economy on the road to recovery, Texas must plan immediately. We applaud Speaker Joe Straus for appointing the Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding, charged with monitoring federal action and suggesting to standing committees needed steps to qualify for federal economic recovery funds. This paper summarizes the portions of the bill that affect the state budget.

CPPP Comments on the TANF State Plan (12/18/2007)
Senior Policy Analyst Celia Hagert submitted the following comments on the TANF State Plan.

Comments Due Soon on Five Key HHSC Documents (12/12/2007)
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has posted five important documents on its web site for public comment: revision of the applications for public benefits; the TANF state plan; a Medicaid Waiver concept paper; and two draft Requests for Proposals relating to modernization of the eligibility and enrollment system for public benefits. We know this is a busy time of the year for everyone, but we urge you to take the time to submit comments to HHSC on these important issues.

Audit Recommends Improvements to Employment & Training Program for Welfare Recipients (10/25/2007)
Earlier this month, the State Auditor’s Office released an audit of the Texas Workforce Commission’s administration of the “Choices” program, the employment and training arm of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) welfare program. TANF’s goal is to help very poor parents become self-sufficient through job preparation and employment. Since 2003, the number of Choices participants has fallen by two-thirds, increasing by 85% the amount of employment and training funds available to spend on each welfare recipient. Despite this increase in funds, outcomes for families leaving welfare have not improved. Though the audit concluded that TWC adequately administers the Choices program, it identified the need to improve case management, increase oversight of Choices program expenditures, and improve employment outcomes for welfare recipients. This Policy Page analyzes the auditor’s report. It also summarizes recent research on the most promising strategies for using education and training to improve outcomes for families leaving welfare.

TANF Legislative Update (04/24/2007)
We wanted to share with you the latest developments on the various Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) bills making their way through the 80th Legislature. All are scheduled to be heard this week--take action!

Testimony on CSHB 3759 (04/19/2007)
Celia Hagert provided testimony before the House Human Services Committee on CSHB 3759. CSHB 3759 would improve outcomes for families on and leaving welfare by increasing work participation rates, improving Texas' ability to help parents overcome barriers to employment, and improving the integrity and effectiveness of sanction practices.

Oppose SB 1096: Senate Likely to Vote This Week (04/18/2007)
Tomorrow, April 19, the Senate may consider SB 1096, a TANF bill that would hurt vulnerable families. We’re urging Senators to vote no on the bill and we encourage you to call your Senators with that message. SB 1861 is a much better alternative. We have also prepared a comparison of the two bills.

CSHB 3759: Improving Outcomes for Welfare Recipients (04/17/2007)
Texas is facing greater challenges meeting federal requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program as a result of rules enacted by Congress in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2006 (DRA). The committee substitute for House Bill (CSHB) 3759 by Representative Elliott Naishtat would help Texas meet federal requirements while improving the outcomes for families on and leaving welfare. CSHB 3759 would increase work participation rates, improve Texas’ ability to help parents overcome barriers to employment, and improve the integrity and effectiveness of sanction practices. CSHB 3759 will be heard in the House Human Services Committee on Thursday, April 19.

Testimony on the Negative Impact of Full-Family Sanctions on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program in Texas (03/28/2007)
Celia Hagert provided invited testimony about Texas' experience with full family sanctions before Subcommittee #1 on Health & Human Services and the California Assembly Budget Committee.

Testimony on TANF Employment Programs and Participation in Those Programs (03/6/2007)
Celia Hagert testified before the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services on TANF employment programs and participation in those programs by certain parents who are not TANF recipients.

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Testimony on SB 1 (02/12/2007)
Celia Hagert testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services on SB 1, General Appropriations Act for 2008-09 (HHSC). She specifically addressed HHSC’s integrated eligibility and enrollment system and the use of TANF funds in the 2008-2009 budget.

A New Welfare-to-Work Approach for Texas (02/5/2007)
Recent changes to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant place new pressures on states to reduce their welfare caseloads and increase the number of families participating in work activities or face financial penalties. At the same time, the new rules make it harder for states to design effective welfare-to-work programs, particularly for those recipients who face the greatest barriers to employment. This policy brief analyzes these challenges in the context of Texas’ welfare program and proposes a set of policy changes designed to help Texas meet the federal requirements while improving outcomes for welfare recipients.

Welfare Reform Statements Miss the Mark: Austin Business Journal (09/22/2006)
Diane Rath, chair of the Texas Workforce Commission, is misguided in her statement that welfare reform has been “one of the most successful social reforms of the last 50 years” (Austin Business Journal, Sept. 8-14). We agree that it is preferable for families to work"especially since families on welfare receive an average of less than $150 a month in cash assistance. However, in Texas, work alone is rarely enough to pull a former welfare family out of poverty.

TANF at 10: Was Welfare Reform a Success in Texas? (08/22/2006)
Ten years ago today, Congress overhauled the nation’s welfare system with the promise of helping poor families become self-sufficient by replacing welfare with work. Known as “welfare reform,” the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant replaced the entitlement program Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Caseloads have fallen 75% in Texas over the last decade, but has welfare reform been a success?

Problems Enrolling in Public Benefits? (04/19/2006)
Texas is using a new system to sign up for or renew Food Stamps, Children’s Medicaid/CHIP, and TANF. Some people may be having problems getting benefits using the new system, or you may be helping someone who is having a problem signing up. CPPP is not a state or federal agency and we cannot sign you up for benefits, but we can tell you who to report your problem to...

TANF Reauthorization--Texas' Choice: The High Road or the Low Road? (04/18/2006)
As part of budget reconciliation, Congress recently reauthorized Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) after numerous short-term extensions. The reauthorization makes several programmatic changes while providing a minimal increase in child care funding. TANF reauthorization provides an opportunity for states to upgrade their TANF work-based programs to deliver better workforce services, engage more recipients in education and training, and improve outcomes. The question is what Texas can do to help families acquire skills and attain self-sufficiency.

Texas and the TANF Block Grant (11/11/2005)
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant is the sixth largest source of federal funds in the Texas state budget. TANF is second only to Medicaid in the support it provides for state health and human services. This Policy Brief analyzes Texas’ fiscal and policy choices regarding TANF, in light of pending federal reauthorization and mounting federal deficits.

Federal Court of Appeals: TWC Violated Federal Law by Rewriting Rules to Terminate Poor Mothers’ Medicaid (05/2/2005)
On Friday, April 29, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit unanimously affirmed U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks’ earlier ruling that the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) violated federal law by adopting regulations to cut off health care to poor mothers in the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families work program, called the Choices program. As long as the women meet work requirements, the Circuit found, they are entitled to Medicaid. A copy of the opinion is attached.

Combined Impact of Medically Needy Cut and TANF Sanctions: Medicaid Coverage of Parents in Poverty has Dropped by 30 Percent with 78th Legislature’s Changes (04/25/2005)
Absent the changes enacted by the 78th Legislature (i.e., elimination of Medically Needy coverage for impoverished parents, and the new Medicaid and full-family sanctions in TANF), we would expect AT LEAST 44,900 more parents to be covered in FY 2005. (This is a conservative estimate, because it does not attempt to capture the GROWTH in overage above 2003 levels that might have occurred without the cuts and TANF policy changes.)

What's Happening with TANF Caseloads: Strict Rules Force Thousands of Kids Off the Rolls (03/9/2005)
This Policy Page analyzes the TANF caseload decline and the impact of strict sanction policies on program recipients and recommends a more reasonable sanction policy that helps rather than hurts poor children.

Federal Court Halts State Effort to Deny Medicaid to Certain TANF Recipients (04/14/2004)
In the latest chapter of a legal battle that has been waging for a half year, a federal court granted a preliminary injunction against three Texas state agencies, again preventing them from terminating health care for thousands of low-income Texans.

Understanding Termination of Medicaid to TANF Recipients (09/12/2003)
The Texas Workforce Commission is proposing a rule that would have the effect of denying Medicaid to extremely poor parents on cash assistance who fail to do things such as meet health check up schedules for their kids or keep their teenagers in school.

Comments on Proposed DHS Rules Regarding TANF and Medicaid (07/11/2003)
Comments on Proposed Rule Changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program (and related Medicaid Changes).

State Health Care and TANF Budget Cuts for 2004-05 (05/30/2003)
As the 78th Regular Session draws to a close, House Bill 1--the state budget for 2004-05--is nearing the stages of final approval by the House and Senate. This Policy Page describes some of the major social services cuts contained in the budget, which will spend less General Revenue than the 2002-03 budget spent.

TANF and Child Care Reauthorization -- Deja Vu Redo? (02/4/2003)
This Policy Page offers an update on the current status of TANF and child care and key issues affecting both the timing and substance of reauthorization this year.

TANF/Child Care Reauthorization Moves to U.S. Senate (06/20/2002)
Texas' Senators and Senate Finance Committee members need to hear from YOU about the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant and the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF).

TANF Reauthorization Proposal Goes to House Floor Tomorrow (05/14/2002)
Problematic provisions mark a step backwards in welfare reform debate.

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Comment Period Until June 30 (05/2/2002)
The United States Department of Labor is soliciting comments on implementation of the Workforce Investment Act. DOL is particularly interested in the effectiveness of One-Stop centers and the integration of WIA and TANF programs.

DHS Seeking Comments on Texas Works (02/20/2002)
On February 6, the Department of Human Services held a public hearing on the 2004-2005 budget needs of the Texas Works program. Interested advocates can find out more about this hearing in this brief Policy Page, which also contains information about how to submit written comments on Texas Works needs by February 25, 2002.

TANF & Immigrants in Texas: Lessons for Reauthorization (02/2/2002)
The 1996 federal welfare law created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant and contained sweeping changes to immigrants' eligibility for basic cash assistance and other social support programs. Significant restrictions on eligibility were imposed and additional requirements for access to benefits were added.

Texas Board of Human Services to Consider Eliminating Nearly All TANF Work Exemptions (12/20/2001)
On December 28th the Board of the Texas Department of Human Services (DHS) will be considering a rule to eliminate nearly all work exemptions for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This would be a major change in state policy and does not take advantage of federal flexibility which allows states to provide appropriate exemptions from mandatory work requirements. The board has the option of proposing an alternative rule that would retain some of the current work exemptions.

Texas is At Risk of Losing $52.7 Million in Federal TANF Funds (12/17/2001)
Texas is At Risk of Losing $52.7 Million in Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant Funds. Call to action to contact congressman or woman.

Welfare, Workforce and the 77th Legislature (08/8/2001)
This Policy Page discusses the problem of inadequate funding for the Choices program and reports on the welfare and workforce bills enacted during the 77th Legislative Session.

O TANF, Where Art Thou? (04/20/2001)
The Texas House and Senate have approved their versions of the state budget for 2002 and 2003, setting the stage for conferees to work out major differences in the weeks ahead. One set of issues to be resolved is the use of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, which will bring at least $973 million in federal funds to Texas in the coming biennium. This Policy Page highlights significant differences in House and Senate proposals affecting TANF spending and the TANF balance that would remain by August 2003.

Keeping Budgetary Commitments to the Poor? Texas and the Welfare Block Grant, 1996-2000 (11/6/2000)
Keeping Budgetary Commitments to the Poor? Texas and the Welfare Block Grant, 1996-2000, a presentation at an international conference on Texas’ use of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant.

Block Grant Hearings (04/4/2000)
Public Input Needed on State Uses of TANF, Social Services Block Grant, Title X (Public Health Services Act), and Maternal and Child Health Block Grant.

Federal Welfare-to-Work Grants (12/3/1999)
In this Policy Page we describe early welfare to work program implementation problems, recent changes aimed at making the program less cumbersome, early program innovations, and give examples of Texas' programs.

TANF Spending for 2000-01 (09/3/1999)
This Policy Page sums up the policy decisions that led to the TANF spending plan included in the General Appropriations Act for 2000 and 2001, with a focus on how the TANF surplus was allocated. It also describes developments, such as the final TANF regulations issued by the federal government, that will influence how state agencies use TANF funds in the next two years and beyond.

Whither Welfare as the Session Withers (05/20/1999)
With only days remaining in the current legislative session, the fate of an array of welfare policy changes will soon be told. This Policy Page provides a quick snapshot of where things stand on the various welfare policies and TANF funding issues we have been following this session.

Omnibus Welfare Overhauled, Heads to Calendars (04/29/1999)
An update on CSHB 3639 by Chairman Elliott Naishtat.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About HB 3639 (04/9/1999)
A brief but thorough guide to the Omnibus Welfare Reform Bill by Chairman Naishtat.

Welfare Bills Begin to Move (03/26/1999)
Summary of welfare "reform" proposals.

Legislators Hear Center's TANF Proposals (02/12/1999)
TANF Investment Plan Presented to House Appropriations HHS Subcommittee.

Nonqualified Immigrants Face September 1998 SSI Termination (05/1/1998)
A small group of elderly or disabled immigrants who are lawfully present and currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cash assistance remain at risk of losing their SSI benefits at the end of the current federal fiscal year.

Welfare-to-Work Grants: New Funding Available to Texas and Local Communities (10/31/1997)
With the passage of the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 1997, $3 billion in new federal money is available to help states and communities move families from welfare to work. The state of Texas is eligible to receive up to $75 million of these funds in federal fiscal year (FFY) 1998 and at least $70 million in FFY 1999.

"Diversion" Ruling to Add Hurdles to Applying for TANF Assistance (08/12/1997)
On July 18th the Texas Department of Human Services (TDHS) considered and adopted as a proposed rule a significant change to TANF cash assistance eligibility policy. The proposed rule would require that all applicants for TANF assistance attend a "work orientation" session at the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to become eligible for assistance.

The TANF Block Grant and the State Budget (08/1/1997)
This Policy Page will report on the final decisions on allocation of the TANF block grant and provide details of how the TANF surplus was finally allocated.

Welfare Reform Legislation in the Last Days of the Session (05/22/1997)
This policy page will report on the status of key welfare reform legislation as the end of the session nears.

TANF Workgroup to Present Plan to Conference Committee (05/5/1997)
The TANF Workgroup of the Budget Conference Committee completed its deliberations on April 24th and produced a report of their recommendations last week. Read a summary of TANF Workgroup Recommendations (dollars in millions).

TANF Workgroup Begins Deliberations (04/16/1997)
Last Thursday the TANF Workgroup met for the first time to begin deliberations on the Senate and House TANF plans. This Workgroup will decide how Texas will allocate its TANF surplus. While many important initiatives are contained in both the House and Senate plans, pressures to supplant general revenue with TANF funds and to hold aside a contingency fund threaten to dramatically reduce the TANF funds available.

Welfare Bills are Moving (03/27/1997)
Thirteen bills are scheduled to be heard and public testimony taken. The bills scheduled for hearing include some very problematic provisions and some that would be positive changes to public assistance. Among them is HB 3431, the companion bill to SB 1067, the only legislation offering direct assistance with the impact of benefits cuts to legal immigrants.

House and Senate TANF Spending Plans Fall Short in Meeting Needs of TANF Recipients (03/14/1997)
The House and Senate are discussing proposals for spending the $393 millioni Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) surplus. Although both are good starting points, neither represents the final product. We anticipate further work on these plans, particularly in the Senate since the Finance Committee has not yet debated allocating TANF.

Health and Immigration Issues & the Federal Welfare Act: Texas Update (02/18/1997)
In this Policy Page we provide an update on the latest information regarding the provisions of the Welfare Act. The ultimate impact of a number of health-related provisions is not yet clear.

House and Senate Budget Committees Consider TANF Surplus (02/8/1997)
There is an estimated $358.2 million in excess TANF funds in the coming biennium. There is also the potential of excess state general revenue as well.

Texas Moving Quickly to Submit State Plan for Welfare Block Grant (09/21/1996)
Since the passage of the federal Welfare Act last month, the governor and state agencies have been assessing the fiscal and policy implications of moving quickly to accept the new block grant funding and the policy changes that come with it. The first step in the process is the development and submittal of a state plan for the new Block Grant for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Only Your Calls Will Stop the Terrible Welfare Bill Now in Conference (07/26/1996)
The President is leaning toward signing the welfare reform legislation, but he is watching the public reaction closely. The time is now for you to make your voice heard.

Welfare Bill Nears Votes in House and Senate, Signature by Clinton Probable (07/17/1996)
The president has been unwilling to consider Congressional welfare reform proposals as long as they were linked to Medicaid reforms with which he disagreed. Last week, Congressional leaders decided to de-couple their welfare and Medicaid proposals and work to get a welfare reform bill to the president's desk before the August recess.

Welfare and Medicaid 'Reforms' Are Moving Again in Congress (06/7/1996)
Federal redesign of Medicaid, welfare, and related social services programs remains a hot topic in Washington. In recent weeks, several Medicaid and welfare bills have been announced and/or filed.

Your Congressperson Needs Support in Voting NO on the Welfare Reform Bill (12/13/1995)
Both houses of Congress recently passed separate bills to reform the nation's welfare and social services programs. Since then, the House and Senate have been working to produce a compromise "conference" bill. When an agreement over whether to convert child nutrition programs (e.g. school lunch) into a block grant is reached, the bill will be sent to both houses for final approval (a House vote may be Dec. 14th or 15th), and on to the President. Organizations and others who care about the needs of the poor are concerned that many members of Congress may vote for this welfare reform bill in the mistaken belief that it is dramatically better than the original House bill, and that it limits damage to poor families.

House and Senate Conferees on Welfare Reform Bill Named (10/18/1995)
In the coming weeks Congress will be making final budget and policy decisions on a wide range of programs. We will be sending out more frequent analyses with more details on specific programs. This issue will focus on the House and Senate Welfare Reform bills with updates on EITC and the Istook Amendment. Later we will follow with a focused report on Medicaid and Medicare and a look at the impact of Congressional reforms on child welfare programs and various immigrant related proposals and their disproportionate impact on Texas.

Senate Welfare Bill Passes 87 - 12 (09/29/1995)
On September 19th, by a vote of 87-12, the U.S. Senate passed the Dole welfare reform bill.

Senate Welfare Bill Heads for a Final Vote (09/18/1995)
Senator Dole announced that the final vote on the welfare reform bill (S.1120) will take place Tuesday (Sept. 19) at 2:15 p.m. Whatever the final Senate Bill looks like, lawmakers are warning of a tough battle ahead in the House-Senate conference " with Democrats saying they could not support a bill that moved to the right and conservatives saying they could not support a bill that did not.

Adjustments to the Senate Republican Leadership's Welfare Reform Bill (08/21/1995)
On August 8th, Senator Bob Dole postponed debate on his welfare reform bill, S.1120, with the intention of working out differences in the legislation. Since that time, there have been a few indications that adjustments will be made to the bill.

Senate Welfare Reform Debate Postponed to September (08/10/1995)
Senate leaders have announced that action on the Senate's welfare reform legislation will be postponed until after the Senate's 3-week summer recess. This is due both to disagreements among Republicans, and to the resistance of Democratic Senators to the Dole proposal.

Welfare Reform Debate Begins on Senate Floor (08/7/1995)
Two weeks ago, disagreement among Republicans threatened to delay Senate action and force welfare reform into the budget reconciliation bill in the fall. Late last week, action on welfare reform resumed with the introduction of Senator Bob Dole's (R-KS) Republican compromise bill (S. 1120) and the Democratic bill drafted by Minority leader Tom Daschle (D-SD). The Democratic and Republican plans borrow heavily from the bill already passed by the House (H.R. 4), and differ only marginally from each other. Both plans block grant AFDC, impose a five year lifetime limit for benefits, shift responsibility for determining eligibility to states, and require beneficiaries to establish paternity. The differences between the plans are outlined below.

What's Hot (07/24/1995)
Welfare Reform Vote Delayed, Sen. Gramm Presents Competing Proposal, Other Features.

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