Earlier today, the DC Council unanimously approved the second and final reading the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Support Act. In its actions, the Council made two critical policy decisions regarding Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). First, the Council voted to delay the 25 percent benefit reduction for families who have received TANF for more than 60 months, which was scheduled for October 2012. The Council also put into place protections for families facing the greatest hardships. Together, these actions will ensure that families have both the time and the tools to successfully transition to self-sufficiency.
As we have previously reported in the District’s Dime, DC is in the process of implementing improved, targeted employment services for TANF parents. The results of this approach have been very promising, with parents in the pilot program increasing work participation ten-fold. But not surprisingly, rolling out this new and more customized employment program has taken time, more time than the Department of Human Services initially anticipated.
As a result, thousands of families would have faced a reduction in benefits before they even had a chance to access these improved services. Today, Council members agreed that families should not be punished for the delays in getting properly assessed, and they agreed to delay the benefit cut for one year.
The Council also put into place protections for families dealing with serious issues such as domestic violence, poor health or the care of an ill family member. Families dealing with these issues will be given extra time to access relevant services before facing benefit cuts. Now parents dealing with the biggest issues will receive full benefits and have time to prepare for and train for work once they have addressed these issues.
DCFPI applauds the Council for giving all TANF families time to access improved job services and providing protections for families facing the most significant issues.