Needy families may benefit from a new program in the state, the TANF Opportunity Act by the Tennessee General Assembly. This legislation is the result of more than a year of collaboration with the legislature’s TANF Working Group to modernize Tennessee’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
The TANF program is a federal workforce development and employment program emphasizing work, training, and personal responsibility. It is a temporary benefit focused on gaining self-sufficiency through employment.
Key components include:
· Increasing the monthly average cash assistance families receive under Tennessee’s TANF funded Families First Program from $277 to $387.
· Creating a two-year Educational Opportunity Pilot Program for qualifying families seeking a degree, certification, or other educational advancement.
· Establishing the Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Program to invest $180 million in providing comprehensive support to families as they move from crisis to career pathways.
· Providing $50 million in Families First Community Grants to smaller non-profits across the state.
· Establishing a 21-member TANF Advisory Board to provide input on the direction of the TANF program and select partners to conduct program research.
· Implementing a $191 million TANF reserve cap so that beginning in Federal Fiscal Year 2022, unspent funds beyond that cap will be used to fund Families First Community Grants.
· Protecting the integrity of the TANF program by increasing civil penalties for individuals who try to secure benefits with a false identity.
For more information on TANF, visit: https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/tanf-opportunity-act.html.