Revises economic assistance programs by updating standards of need, revising outcome measures and data collected, and reducing barriers to participation.
Establishes consolidated standards of need for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), refugee assistance, the pregnant women assistance program, and state family assistance. These standards may vary each fiscal year by geographical areas, program, and family size. Standards for programs mentioned above shall be based on studies of actual living costs and generally recognized inflation indices and shall include reasonable allowances for household budget including shelter, fuel, food, transportation, clothing, household maintenance and operations, personal maintenance, necessary incidentals, and out-of-pocket costs a recipient may incur for child care and health care.
The department must conduct a revised comprehensive study of living costs that includes recommendations for TANF standards as a percentage of need. The study must be submitted to the Office of Financial Management, the legislative-executive WorkFirst Poverty Reduction Oversight Task Force, and the Legislature by September 1. 2019.
By September 1, 2022, and every four years thereafter, the department must adjust the estimated base costs to a consumer for household budget items used in the study, in addition to annual adjustments for inflation.
By September 1, 2029, and every ten years thereafter, the department must submit a redesigned and updated comprehensive study the Office of Financial Management, the legislative-executive WorkFirst Poverty Reduction Oversight Task Force, and the Legislature. When completing each ten-year redesign, the department must adjust study parameters, including cost categories and geographic boundaries, as necessary.
The bill also adds time limit exemptions to adopted rules related to TANF based on certain circumstances.
Finally, creates rule that the department may not require applicants for TANF to attend a WorkFirst orientation as a condition of eligibility. The department may incorporate orientation information into the recipient assessment.
*Companion to SB5684*
Updated on 4.12.19:
- Changed a reference from "recipient and the recipients family" to "an otherwise eligible family" when describing criteria by which a time limit extension must be allowed for the TANF program.
- Clarified that new criteria to be added to adopted rules related to time limit extensions falls under the category of hardship and replaces "recipient" with "parent or caretaker" in reference to this category.
- Satisfactory participation in the program is removed as a criteria by which a parent or caretaker must be allowed a time limit extension.
- includes any member of the family, rather than only the TANF recipient, in criteria related to time limit extensions for family violence and provides that families who have been terminated or disqualified under prior policies may receive benefits prospectively if they are otherwise eligible.
- The following provisions are removed from the bill:
- Requiring the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to revise and update a comprehensive study of living costs related to consolidated standards of need;
- Revising criteria for extensions to the five-year limit for receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); extending the noncompliance sanction period to four months and associated case review and notice requirements for the DSHS;
- Allowing, rather than requiring, a recipient's TANF grant to be reduced for noncompliance; and
- Prohibiting the DSHS from requiring TANF applicants to attend a mandatory WorkFirst orientation as a condition of eligibility.
- A null and void clause is added.
- The effective date is revised to be 90 days after the adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.
Senate Committee Amendments (Updated on 4.12.19):
- Modified the hardship exemption from the lifetime limit to include those who are homeless as defined in RCW 43.185C.010.
Requires, rather than allows, DSHS to exempt TANF recipients from the five-year time limit due to hardship or family violence. Expands hardship to include families that are homeless or at substantial risk of losing stabling housing or housing support