New Rule Opens Up TANF Money for Youth Programs

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If you aren't watching what your state legislators and governor are doing with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families money (TANF), now is the time to get on it. The Administration for Children and Families, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a rule yesterday that spells out specifically what the Recovery Act allotted for: the relatively unrestricted use of unspent TANF funds.

Before the Recovery Act, TANF money remained with a state even if it went unspent in the year it was distributed ("carried over" money, in government speak). But there was a caveat: states could only spend those dollars on direct assistance and payments to needy families or support services for unemployed parents like child care or transportation.

Now, the restrictions have been lifted. A state can now use old TANF funds, the rule says, for "any allowable TANF benefit, service, or activity such as job skills training or re-training activities, employment counseling services, parental counseling services, teen pregnancy prevention activities, services for victims of domestic violence, after-school programs."

For more on the impact of the new rule, please visit our Child Welfare Today blog.