On Feb. 27, U.S. Rep. Blake Moore introduced legislation into the 118th Congress to reform the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Act. His proposal would impose Utah’s model on other states, requiring families on welfare to develop work habits.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) wants to put “temporary” back into the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

“Once again, Utah is a model for how we responsibly spend federal funding allocations,” Moore said, after introducing the Restoring Temporary to TANF Act into the 118th Congress on Feb. 27.

“Utah’s current prioritization of work supports has allowed our state to make significant investments with federal TANF dollars and empower families to find independence and thrive.”

The Restoring Temporary to TANF Act would impose that Utah model on other states by requiring them to set aside 25 percent of federal TANF dollars to spend on efforts to promote core work activities.

The TANF program is intended to provide temporary stopgap assistance to families when parents or other relatives cannot supply basic needs.

Enacted in 1996 as part of broad welfare reform efforts, members of Moore’s staff explained that the TANF block grant program was intended to provide aid for single parent households by promoting their independence through work, job preparation and training, while also encouraging two-parent households to remain together.

The federal government provides grants to the individual states to provide that assistance while the states design their programs, determine what assistance to provide and decide who qualifies for benefits.

Because TANF funding reaches far fewer families and provides less cash assistance than the previous welfare programs, however, some states have shifted those funds to fund other programs.

Instead of promoting financial independence through work, according to Moore’s staff members, too often TANF program dollars are now being reallocated via direct checks without adequate support and workforce training.

Moore’s proposed legislation would require that 25 percent of federal TANF funding to states be allocated strictly for work supports; education and training; apprenticeships; non-recurrent short-term benefits; and case management of individual family responsibility plans.

All of those activities, Moore emphasized, would assist recipient families to eventually achieve financial independence.

“The Restoring Temporary to TANF Act is a step in the right direction,” he added, “to restore economic freedom, strengthen our economy and get Americans back to work.”

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