Sneak Preview: HHS Plans To Revise TANF Reporting Requirements

February 22, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

(The following was excerpted from an article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) The Department of Health and Human Services plans to issue draft revisions of its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families state reporting requirements early this year in response to a Government Accountability Office report seeking more accountability related to “non-cash services.”

Congress provides $16.5 billion in TANF funds each year to enable states to administer their own welfare programs under federal guidelines. Since 1997, the number of families receiving TANF cash assistance has dropped steadily, and states have shifted their TANF spending priorities to other forms of aid, referred to as “non-cash services.” Such services range from child welfare services to job preparation activities to emergency aid for housing, energy, food or clothing. In fiscal year 2011, states spent about two-thirds of their total federal TANF and state-related funds on non-cash services, compared to only 23 percent in 1997.

However, GAO noted that the varied uses of TANF funds for non-cash services raises questions about how state efforts are contributing to TANF purposes. “Without an accountability framework that encompasses the full breadth of states’ uses of TANF funds, Congress will not be able to fully assess how funds are being used, including who is receiving services or what is being achieved,” GAO said.

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