Working to transform the child welfare system.

HB 2441: Improving access to temporary assistance for needy families

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) time limit qualifications are expanded for circumstances of individuals and their children and changes the definition of homeless is to align with the definition proposed in HB2388.  Hardship, for the purpose of a time limit extension will include:  the recipient is participating satisfactorily in the program; is temporarily prevented from working or looking for a job; is in need of mental health or substance use disorder treatment; or demonstrates another basis by which the time limit would cause undue hardship to the recipient or the recipient’s family.  

Disaggregated data of individuals whose benefits were reduced or terminated must be reported annually, with an obligation for the department to address any racial disparities that are found. If an individual is not engaged in required activities, the department must ensure that their barriers have been taken into account in the creation of the plan. 

Additionally, the ability to terminate a family from receipt of the grant due to noncompliance is eliminated and instead, after 4 months of noncompliance the family’s grant may be reduced by the recipient’s share or by 40%, whichever is higher.

The components of the bill other than those dealing with data collection and reporting shall apply retroactively to families terminated or sanctioned since January 2015. 

Amendments: 

  • Social and Health Services (DSHS) to reduce a family’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant after two months of continuous noncompliance rather than four months.

  • Requires, rather than allows, DSHS, to waive TANF penalties for a recipient who refuses to engage in work for good cause as defined in statute.

  • Removes the retroactive application of the time limit extension and noncompliance sanction policies.

  • Directs DSHS to conduct outreach to families terminated due to time limits on or after January 1, 2015 who appear to otherwise meet expanded time limit extension criteria in order to notify families of policy changes and encourage them to reapply for assistance.

  • Adds an effective date of July 1, 2021 for time limit extension and noncompliance sanction policy changes

Amendment:

  • If a WorkFirst recipient refuses to engage in work or work activities, DSHS must review the case to ensure DSHS has considered any barriers to work and made any necessary revisions to the recipient’s individual responsibility plan.

  • After twelve months of continuous noncompliance, DSHS may terminate the WorkFirst recipient’s grant.

Amendment:

  • Strikes language that directs DSHS to review a WorkFirst recipient’s case if the recipient refuses to engage in work and work activities.

  • After twelve months of continuous noncompliance, the recipient’s grant must be terminated

 

Striking Amendment:

  • Requires DSHS to terminate a family’s grant after 12 months of continuous noncompliance.

  • Removes sections that add criteria by which DSHS must exempt a recipient from the 60-month lifetime limit for benefits.

  • Provides that the act applies prospectively and not retroactively.

  • Adds a null and void clause.