Report Shows TANF Dollars Being Diverted by the State

The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) recently released a report about the diversion of federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds. The following comments are from GBPI:

Work support and self-sufficiency funds continue to be cut from Georgia’s state budget as unemployment and poverty rises, GBPI’s latest analysis by Clare S. Richie shows.

Richie found a disturbing trend: State lawmakers are diverting 60 percent of federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds from child care, employment support, and adolescent pregnancy prevention, despite the growing need. For instance, unemployment is at record highs and families requiring food stamps increased 84% from 2002 to 2008.

Additionally, Georgia’s federal TANF award for this coming year (beginning July 1) is 11 percent lower than it was in the 2009 budget.

Consider these policy implications of reduced funding and continued shifts away from programs that promote self-sufficiency:

1. In the fall of 2008 there was an uptick in TANF adult recipients. In light of this growth and the continued recession, is it prudent to cut funds for cash assistance for adult and child recipients by 14 percent?

2. Georgia will spend 60 percent of its annual TANF award — $368 million — on child welfare-related programs, leaving only 40 percent to spend on programs directly related to TANF’s purposes, such as subsidized child care, work assistance, and adult and adolescent health.

3. Should Georgia be cutting $3.9 million from TANF funds for family planning and youth development programs when one of TANF’s four purposes is to prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies and promote two-parent households?

Download Richie’s brief, Georgia’s Allocation of Federal TANF Funds in FY 2010. Downloads are available to distribute freely.