HB 2469: The Best Starting Point for Redesigning Oregon’s TANF Program

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HB 2469: The Best Starting Point for Redesigning Oregon’s TANF Program

InsideCapitolDome
Unless Oregon makes significant changes in its program, the State faces a loss of federal funds and federal fiscal penalties.

HB 2469: The Best Starting Point for Redesigning Oregon’s TANF Program

The problems:

  • The federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 changed the nation’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. Unless Oregon makes significant changes in its program, the State faces a loss of federal funds and federal fiscal penalties.

    Additional chart from Liz Schott’s presentation, indicating how many states allow various exemptions from time limits on TANF receipt.

  • The TANF program has been in place since 1995. In many ways, the current program falls short of meeting the low-income families’ needs. Oregon should alter its program to take advantage of national research on TANF program successes and “best practices” since the program was designed a decade ago.

Why HB 2469 offers the best starting point for solving these problems:

  • Requires up-front, in-depth screening and assessment of every TANF client to get families what they need more effectively and efficiently.
  • Creates a post-TANF employment retention program for clients who leave TANF for low-wage employment, raising Oregon’s work participation rate and helping families leaving TANF to meet their basic needs and succeed on their jobs.
  • Creates a TANF-SSI program that provides assistance to those who may be SSI-eligible, getting disabled clients the type of assistance they need without hurting Oregon’s work participation rate.
  • Gives parents of newborns an additional nine months exemption from work requirements, so that parents with new babies have one year to become stable and focused on raising a healthy child before going back to work.

Why HB 2469 is a better starting point than HB 2180:

  • HB 2469 allows children to continue receiving TANF benefits beyond the 60-month time limit for adults.
  • HB 2469 requires a more thorough up-front assessment.
  • HB 2469 restores policy of allowing families to receive some child support while receiving TANF aid.
  • HB 2469 requires the State to more thoroughly evaluate families before sanctioning them.

How HB 2469 could be improved to more effectively help families:

  • Increase the grant amount, set the income eligibility limit at 200 percent of the new grant amount, and provide for an annual increase in the grant amount as the cost of living increases. The income limit has been frozen since 1991.
  • Expand access to the Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA) program of the Oregon Health Plan, so that all families leaving TANF will have health insurance.
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OCPP

Written by staff at the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

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