Q & A: Non-Custodial Parents
TANF Program Policy Questions and Answers
Q1: May a State provide benefits to noncustodial parents (NCPs) who live in another State?
A1: No. Under the definition of "noncustodial parents" in the TANF final rules (see amended definition at 64 FR 40290-40292),noncustodial parents must be residents of the State. As we had indicated in the preamble published April 12 (64 FR 17752), we viewed noncustodial parents living outside the State to be beyond the scope of the State's TANF program.
If a State has one or more border cities and wants to assist noncustodial parents living across the State line, we would suggest that it explore the use of Welfare-to-Work funds or the development of reciprocal arrangements with the bordering State(s) for that purpose.
Q2: May a State elect to provide “assistance” to a non-custodial parent (NCP) and count that parent’s hours of participation in work activities toward the work participation rate for the family? Would this family be considered a two-parent family? If so, what coding must a State use to report the family?
A2: Yes, a State may provide “assistance,” as defined at 45 CFR 260.31(a), to a NCP and may report for work participation rate purposes any hours in the countable activities described in the Federal regulations at 45 CFR 261.30. A State could also provide “non-assistance” to the NCP (i.e., allowable benefits or services that are outside the definition of assistance). If the State provided only non-assistance benefits to the NCP, then hours of work would not count toward the rate because the NCP would not be a work-eligible individual, as defined at 45 CFR 261.2(n).
The preamble to the original TANF rule (64 Fed. Reg. 17774, dated April 12, 1999) noted, “A State may, but is not required to, treat a family in which a noncustodial parent receives TANF assistance as a two-parent family.” This is still true under current rules. Accordingly, a State should make its definition of a two-parent family for work participation purposes clear in its TANF State plan or other State policy documents. The minimum two-parent definition for work participation purposes is specified at 45 CFR 261.24(c).
If the State does not consider such a family to be a two-parent family for work participation purposes, it should code the Type-of-Family (TANF Data Report-Section one, item 12) with a “1” (1=Family included only in overall work participation rate (i.e., family includes one or more work-eligible individuals but does not meet definition of a two-parent family). If the State does consider such a family to be a two-parent family, it should code the Type-of-Family with a “2” (2=Two-Parent Family included in both the overall and the two-parent work participation rates (i.e., family includes two work-eligible parents and meets the definition of a two-parent family.)