Louisiana Increases TANF for the First Time in Two Decades

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Beginning January of 2022, Louisiana’s most vulnerable families will begin receiving some extra help. Earlier this month, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) announced that the state is increasing cash benefit amounts available through the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for the first time in more than 20 years.

The increased benefit will double cash assistance through the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP) and Kinship Care Subsidy Program (KCSP). The move will at least boost benefits for Louisiana’s families receiving aid through the programs up to the national average. In November 2021, 1,484 households received FITAP, and 1,338 households received KCSP. Before the increase, Louisiana’s average TANF benefit through FITAP was $240 compared to the national average of $484. For KCSP, the monthly benefit will increase from $222 to $450.

The federal TANF program provides cash benefits in order to help families meet their basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing. FITAP ties benefits to career development, which DCFS says aims to decrease long-term dependence on welfare assistance. KCSP provides cash benefits to qualified relatives who are caring for a child or children whose parents are not present in the home.

“We know there are many more families who could benefit from the programs, not only for the much-needed cash assistance but also for the valuable workforce development and educational opportunities these programs offer. We hope this increase in benefit amounts will attract more people and encourage them to apply,” said Secretary Marketa Garner Walters of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, which administers the programs.

According to the 2021 Kids Count Databook, Louisiana ranks 48th for overall child wellbeing. Federal Census data shows that 19 percent of Louisiana’s population is currently living in poverty, including 25 percent of grandparents responsible for caring for one or more of their grandchildren.

“This is especially important at a time when families are facing price increases due to inflation and unprecedented need caused by the pandemic. It was imperative that these benefit amounts be increased to meet their needs,” said Shavana Howard, assistant secretary of DCFS’ Division of Family Support.

The last time the benefits were increased was July 2000. Since that time, inflation has increased 61 percent, drastically reducing the purchasing power available to families. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, what a family could buy for $1 in 2000 now costs around $1.61.

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