Quit stealing TANF $ from the poor

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TANF $ should be used for TANF families!
Increase the MFIP grants.

According to figures from the DHS, in 2012, only 27% of the annual Federal TANF block grant funds went to cash grants for MN families in poverty. Over the past decade, hundreds of millions of dollars have been taken from Minnesota’s TANF block grant to supplant the General Fund spending that used to go to other programs. Meanwhile, there has been no cash grant increase to families for 27 years.

  • Only  $73 million of the $263 million TANF grant went to family cash grants.
  • $71 million was directly transferred to other funds.
  • $101 million went to “Support Services.”
  • $12 million went to the Health Department
  • $2.5 million went to other programs, not related to cash grants.
  • $ 4.8 million went to administration.

Some of these are worthy programs, but why take money that should be going directly to the 70,000 children who are living in EXTREME poverty?

  • $101 million of TANF for Support Services – $30 million more than goes to cash grants. The DHS list of “Support Services” includes things like Adult Basic Education, GED, job training, work search and “help accessing other services.” Why is the money coming out of TANF to pay for education? Why isn’t that money coming from the education budget like it does for everyone else? Why is money coming out of TANF for job search and work-related activities, instead of coming out of the Dept that deals with employment – the Department that deals with everyone else’s work-related activities?

Meanwhile, the MFIP grants for the poorest of the poor have not been increased since 1986 – 27 years ago.

  • $12 million of TANF for studies about “health disparities” and visiting nurses: Why is TANF money going to the medical establishment to look at health disparities, when it’s obvious that extreme poverty is the crushing health problem? Why are visiting nurses being paid for with TANF? Why aren’t these being paid for by the Health Department, like they are for everyone else?

Meanwhile, the MFIP grants keep families 70% below the poverty level, or in “Extreme Poverty”

  • $23 million of TANF for the Working Family Credit: Why is TANF paying for the Working Family Tax Credits; why is that not money being covered in the Tax Committee?

Meanwhile, while the grants have been the same since 1986, the cost of living has DOUBLED.

  • $44 million of TANF for Childcare and Development: Why is TANF going to Childcare and Development costs? These services should be funded by the General Fund, as they were in the past.

Meanwhile, 70,000 children are living in Extreme Poverty

  • $4.7 million of TANF to Federal Title XX: Again, this is TANF money going to the Social Services Block Grant that used to be General Fund.

Meanwhile, a family of 2 gets $437 per month in cash to live on – for rent, utilities, transportation, clothing, hygiene, school supplies, laundry, transportation…everything.

The legislature is putting education as a big priority this year. How are our children, who are living in extreme poverty, supposed to get any kind of education when they don’t a stable roof over their heads, when they don’t have food, when they are in constant transition, constant crisis and undergoing constant stress? You can put all the money you want into education, but if you are dealing with hunger, homelessness and childhood stress, you don’t have much of a chance for success.

Increasing the grants will save money.

                Homelessness: The monthly MFIP cash grant for a family of 2 is $437 – not enough to even pay for “couch surfing,” when you have kids. The monthly cost for family in a Hennepin county homeless shelter is over $3000 per month.

                Other Costs: You can also figure the cost from poverty-stricken families to the networks for health crises, domestic violence, food shelves, crisis nurseries etc.

Finally, raising the grants will get families off welfare and into work much faster. Being trapped in extreme poverty puts families in a deep hole that is nearly impossible to get out of. It’s hard to look for work when we can’t keep our phones on, when we are moving from place to place, when we don’t have money for transportation, hygiene, laundry, or anything else.

Give back the TANF money to TANF families.

Increase the welfare grants. We call on the Governor, the House and the Senate to undo the years of the TANF shift to other areas. Do what needs to be done to give back the TANF money to TANF families. The present and future for 70,000 Minnesota children would be brighter with your action.

Welfare Rights Committee – 612-822-8020



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