Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) released a discussion draft to reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which requires Congressional action by September of this year when the bill’s authorization expires. The discussion draft calls for:

  • Extending TANF for five years, as well as child care and related programs
  • Expecting universal engagement and case management to address the needs of struggling families
  • Measuring work outcomes to hold states accountable for the intended purpose of the program
  • Limiting the use of TANF funds to families who truly need it the most by requiring monthly income to be below 200 percent of the poverty level
  • Focusing on work and activities that lead to work, ultimately creating the building blocks for people’s success

This reauthorization draft focuses on the current job skills gap—the difference between what employers need and the number of workers with the necessary skills to fill this need. This issue has been the topic of ongoing House “Jobs and Opportunities” hearings and sparked President Trump’s executive order requesting agencies and states to re-evaluate and strengthen job requirements for federal benefit programs.  

The TANF discussion draft recognizes that greater supports beyond requiring work is necessary to help fill in-demand jobs by indicating there are building blocks necessary for employment success. Those supports, labeled generally as “activities,” will need to be defined. The draft addresses child care and some job training by allowing up to 50 percent of a state’s TANF allocation to be transferred to the Child Care and Development Fund, child welfare (up to 10 percent), and programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and our strategic action network will be working to lift comprehensive work supports in any discussion around economic mobility programs or work requirements on benefits.

Contact Jennifer Ralston Herrera, associate director for public policy, if you would like to join the policy office in this advocacy effort.

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