OFA "Dear Colleague" letter on Rescinding guidance concerning waiver and expenditure authority under section 1115 of the Social Security Act

Publication Date: August 30, 2017

August 30, 2017

Dear Colleague:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to helping low-income families transition from welfare to work.  The achievement of gainful employment and economic independence is critically important for the good health and well-being of these families.  More than just a means of income, work creates opportunities for individual growth, instills personal dignity, and provides low-income families with a clear pathway to financial self-sufficiency.

One of the core goals of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, created in 1996 by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), was to help needy families end dependency on government benefits by obtaining and retaining employment.  PRWORA established work participation requirements and rates for states to further this goal.

In 2012, the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued an Information Memorandum (IM), TANF-ACF-IM-2012-03, encouraging states to apply for waivers related to work participation requirements.  With today’s publication of TANF-ACF-IM-2017-01, HHS is rescinding this 2012 IM, and will instead explore means, consistent with HHS’s statutory authority under PRWORA, to encourage state TANF programs to make further efforts to increase work participation rates and to assist TANF recipients to engage in core work activities. We look forward to working with you to achieve these goals.




Steven Wagner
Acting Assistant Secretary
     for Children and Families


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