Still Waiting for Summer Jobs Bill, States Tap TANF Funds for Programs

Print More

While as much as $1 billion in funding for a national summer youth employment program  continues to languish in Congress, a growing number of states are using federal money from a different source to run this year’s summer jobs programs.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say 12 states and the District of Columbia have applied for and received approval to use varying amounts of money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to run summer jobs programs this summer.

Six more states have applications in the pipeline, and others may follow suit. The deadline to apply for permission to use TANF funds for summer youth employment is Sept. 1.

The TANF route for summer jobs was espoused as early as January by the HHS’s Administration for Children and Families and the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration  because  the $1.2 billion summer youth employment funding through the Recovery Act was being exhausted. However, some states, such as Iowa, recognized last fall that TANF was the way to go to fund summer jobs.

“Coming out of a recession, we felt it was important to do something,” said Kerry Koonce, communications director for Iowa Workforce Development, the agency that oversees federally funded summer youth employment programs in Iowa.

HHS does not track how much TANF money each state planning to use TANF funds for summer jobs will spend.

Iowa was approved to use $4.8 million in TANF money for this summer’s jobs program. Koonce said putting together a successful application does not take a lot of thought.

“It’s a matter of taking the time to put [the application] together and following through,” Koonce said.

The $4.8 million will enable Iowa to provide summer jobs for about 1,200 youth.  Last year 1,600 youth Iowa participated in the summer jobs programs paid for with $6.1 million through the Recovery Act.