TANF-ACF-PA-1997-01 (Guidance concerning maintenance of effort, definition Assistance and other provisions in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996)

Publication Date: June 27, 1997




Guidance concerning maintenance of effort, definition Assistance and other provisions in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.


This announcement provides guidance in several areas of policy important to implementation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program


Comments and questions should be directed to the appropriate Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Regional Administrator.


Lavinia Limón
Office of Family Assistance


I. Nature and Purpose of this Guidance

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) gives States enormous flexibility to design their Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) programs in ways that promote work, responsibility, and self-sufficiency and strengthen families. Except as expressly provided under the statute, the Federal government may not regulate the conduct of States.

Within this context, we are planning to focus our proposed TANF regulations on areas where Congress has expressly provided for the Secretary to take action -- i.e., with respect to data collection, penalties and bonuses. We have also been undertaking extensive outreach to ensure consultation with a wide range of persons and organizations holding perspectives on children and families. To date, we have asked State executive and legislative officials and their national representatives, advocates, local government representatives, non-profit organizations and foundations, labor, and business organizations to participate in this consultation process. '

Because State legislative sessions are starting and the TANF statute is so far-reaching, we have frequently heard of the need for early guidance on certain issues of immediate importance to the development of State programs. Among these issues are Federal requirements related to the expenditure of Federal grant funds, including the definition of "assistance" which triggers these requirements; the scope of State flexibility in using State funds which qualify as expenditures for maintenance-of-effort (MOE) purposes; and State flexibility in using State MOE funds in State programs operated apart from TANF.

Consequently, we are providing preliminary guidance on these important issues. However, because of the scope of the TANF statute, and the interrelationships among its many pieces, it is important to note that many other questions will be answered through the regulatory process. We believe the guidance reflects Congressional intent on TANF policies, and that it will promote program accountability, support substantial innovation in program design, provide States the flexibility they need to serve needy families effectively, and help achieve the central goal of welfare reform: moving people from welfare to work.

Key Points

The guidance makes the following key points:

Because the statutory language for Contingency Fund MOE is different, States do NOT have the flexibility to count expenditures under separate State programs for the purpose of meeting the Contingency Fund MOE. All expenditures counted toward the 100% Contingency Fund MOE requirement must be made under the TANF program and therefore must meet TANF requirements.

  1. States have the flexibility to count, toward their general TANF MOE requirement, expenditures of State funds under separate State programs. These expenditures must meet the statutory requirements for "qualified State expenditures," including the requirement that they are made on behalf of "eligible families," but are not subject to requirements which apply to the TANF program. (see section VI discussion and chart).
  2. In order to ensure that State decisions to establish separate programs do not undermine the work provisions of the new law, undercut Congressional intent to share child support collections between the Federal and State governments, or have other negative consequences, we will be taking steps to obtain additional information on State practices, exercising the administrative authority available under the statute to support the legislative goals of PRWORA, and seeking certain legislative changes (see discussion in section 11 below).
  3. Under the definition of "assistance" included in section VII, all but two forms of assistance provided to families under the TANF program would be considered "assistance. Thus, TANF requirements such as time limits, work requirements, assignment of child support, and data collection are applicable (depending on the nature of funding involved).
  4. During the interim period before final rules are available, any penalty decisions will be based solely on whether violations of the statute occurred. Further, statutory interpretations forthcoming in final rules will apply prospectively only; they will not be a basis for penalties during this interim period. States will need to conform their programs to Federal rules after final rules are promulgated.

II. Ensuring Positive Impacts

Program Accountability. At this point, we do not know what States will do with the flexibility they have to set up separate programs which qualify for MOE purposes, but are not subject to many of the TANF rules (see section TV). The flexibility provided in this guidance gives States the opportunity to try out some innovative and creative strategies for supporting the critical goals of work and responsibility. For example, States might choose to use State funds to support a State EITC or transportation assistance that would help low-wage workers keep their jobs.

At the same time, States could use this new flexibility in ways that might undermine important goals of welfare reform. In particular, we are concerned that States could design their programs so as to avoid the work requirements in section 407 or to avoid returning a share of their child support collections to the Federal government.

We believe it is our responsibility to use the administrative avenues available to us to mitigate these potential negative consequences.


We intend to take administrative action to collect information about the families served by States under their separate MOE programs, so that we can: 1) better identify which States are truly successful in serving needy families; and 2) promote work and the other legislative goals. For example, in the proposed regulations we are developing on work requirements, penalties, and high performance bonuses, we intend to require that information be provided on families served by separate State programs and, to the maximum extent possible, consider the effects of State policies in setting up separate programs. More specifically, we intend to propose regulations to:

  • deny States any reduction in the work participation requirements applicable to them (i.e., not give them credit for caseload reductions) unless they provide us with caseload information for separate MOE as well as TANF programs, and they demonstrate by this data that TANF caseload reductions are not artifacts of the way they structured their programs (i.e., the result of transferring beneficiaries from TANF to separate MOE programs);
  • deny "reasonable cause" to a State whose MOE policy work to circumvent the work requirements of the Act. If a State fails to meet the participation rates, the Secretary would not entertain "reasonable cause" considerations unless the State provided information about its MOE program. It must also demonstrate that it was making a good faith effort in the work area with respect both to its TANF and its separate MOE programs and that it was not using its separate MOE program to evade the force of the work participation rates; and
  • look at a State's overall work effort in deciding whether it qualifies for a high performance bonus, i.e., a State's success with its TANF program cannot be adequately judged without knowing how the State's TANF and separate MOE programs are configured and what is happening to needy families in the separate MOE programs.

Additional information on participants in separate MOE programs will help us evaluate whether work goals are being undermined and publicly report our findings.

To ensure that we have critical information which will enable us to determine whether the work and other legislative goals are being achieved, we will propose a change to the statutory provisions on data collection which will enable collection of information on recipients served by separate State programs that are used as MOE.

This guidance sets forth our best current interpretation of the statutory language on the fiscal and programmatic implications of different program configurations. However, we would consider a different interpretation in the final TANF regulation if we learn that the work provisions are being undermined during this interim period,

Also, we strongly advise States to think carefully about the risks to the long-term viability of their TANF program if they rely too extensively on separate State programs. Because States cannot receive Contingency Funds unless their expenditures within the TANF program are at 100 percent of historical State expenditures, excessive State reliance on outside expenditures for their TANF MOE may make access to Contingency Funds much more difficult during economic downturns.

Finally, we intend to work with Congress and the Governors in a bipartisan fashion to ensure that each State's overall work effort meets the statute's work participation requirements. Specifically, we will seek language making clear that calculation of whether a State has met the applicable participation rate shall take into account the State's success in placing participants in both TANF and MOE programs in work activities.


In assessing the potential budgetary impact of this bill, Congress apparently did not envision major losses in the Federal share of child support collections. We are advising States not to set up separate State programs which retain what would otherwise be the appropriate Federal share of child support collections.

In order to track State practices in this area, as part of the regulatory efforts proposed above, we will seek to incorporate requirements for States to report child support information for families in State MOE programs, as well as TANF. Likewise, in our legislative proposal on data collection for recipients served outside the TANF program, we will be asking for authority to collect child support data.

We also intend to work with the Governors and the Congress to identify approaches that will ensure that States do not use the flexibility provided to retain Federal dollars in State coffers.

Summary. Because the States' ability to set up separate State programs can result in much more responsive and effective programs, we do not want to stifle creative State thinking about how best to serve their needy families and children. We will monitor the overall implementation of this legislation to assess whether the goals of welfare reform are being achieved. We will work with the Congress and the Governors on legislative remedies in the areas noted.

III. Overview of Guidance.

This section summarizes the remaining sections of the guidance, provides some additional context, and sets forth our policies on penalties in the interim period before final rules are available.

Section IV. Basic State Options in Program Design (P. 6) -- a conceptual framework for the TANF program and its Federal and State components.

Section V. Use of-Federal Funds(p. 7) -- the flexibility available to States and the limits on use of Federal funds, including restrictions on the assistance payable with Federal funds

Section VI. Basic Requirements Governing State MOE Expenditures (p. 9) -- the requirements governing State expenditures that qualify for TANF MOE purposes and the expanded flexibility available to States to expend State funds on certain needy families, including certain immigrants, individuals who exceed the time limits and teen parents. [NOTE: The immigrant policy on pp. 11-12 gives States broader flexibility to spend State MOE funds on immigrant families than was previously indicated in guidance sent to State Commissioners on October 9, 1996. The new interpretation reflects the additional work done on interpreting "State program under this part" and on trying to find the appropriate meaning for the many pieces of the statute which directly and indirectly speak to this issue.]

Section VII. Definition of Assistance (p. 14) -- guidance needed to assess the scope of key TANF provisions, including time limits, work requirements, child support assignment, and data collection.

Section VIII. Conclusion (P. 15)

Section IX. Overview of TANF revisions (p. 16) -- a chart depicting the applicability of key provisions in the TANF statute, depending on whether Federal or State funds -- and whether a State TANF program or a separate State program -- are involved.

We recognize that this guidance does not provide answers to all the major issues and does not answer many specific questions. Through the regulatory process, we will provide broader and more specific guidance. The rulemaking process will also permit us to take into consideration ongoing input we receive from various interested parties.

Interim Penalty Policies. We want to strongly encourage State efforts to implement effective and innovative program designs and develop targeted service strategies which will produce the best outcomes for families (including those with special needs, -such as those headed by grandparent caretakers). Thus, during this interim period, States should not be unduly fearful of incurring penalties under Section 409. Before Federal regulations are in effect, States will not be subject to penalties under the new law so long as they implement programs which are related to the intent of' the statute and operate within a reasonable interpretation of the statutory language' 1 Also, there are possible "reasonable cause" exceptions and an opportunity to undertake corrective compliance before imposition of most penalties.

IV. Basic State Options on Program Design

To understand the basic options available to States under the new title IV-A, it is important to make note of some of the key terminology used in the statute.

The term "grant" refers to Federal funds provided to the State under the new section 403 of the Social Security Act.2 References to amounts "attributable to funds provided by the Federal government" have a similar meaning.

The terms "under the program funded under this part" and "under the State program funded under this part" refer to the State's TANF program. Unlike "grant" references, they encompass programs funded both with Federal funds and with State expenditures made under the TANF plan and program.

What counts as a State expenditure for TANF maintenance-of-effort (MOE) purposes is governed by the language in thenew section 409(a)(7) of the Social Security Act. The statutory language in this section allows expenditures "in all State programs" to count as TANF MOE when spent on "eligible families" and meeting other requirements.

When the statutory provisions are read with these terms in mind, it is possible to distinguish three different types of program configurations under the new title IV-A: TANF programs funded by expenditures of Federal grant funds or by co-mingling of State funds and Federal grant funds; TANF programs where Federal grant and State funds are segregated; and programs outside of TANF and funded by expenditures of State funds, but counting toward meeting the State's MOE requirements.


1 This would include the requirement that both Federal and State "maintenance-of-effort" expenditures must generally support the statutory purposes outlined in section 401 of the Social Security Act, as amended.

2References to a grant under section 403(a) would exclude the Contingency Fund, but would include other TANF funds in section 403.


The language used in a specific TANF provision (or in a related provision elsewhere in the statute) will determine its applicability to these three types of programs.

In order to tailor programs to meet the specific needs of families moving from welfare to work, States may find some advantage to segregating Federal and State TANF dollars or spending State MOE funds in separate programs outside of TANF. We encourage States to take great care in making such decisions and to ensure that any such decisions are consistent with meeting the goals of the program.3

The definition of "assistance" is also a critical factor in determining the applicability of key TANF provisions. This paper includes a separate discussion of that definition.

V. Use of Federal TANF Funds

Compared to prior law, the TANF statute provides States with enormous flexibility to decide how to spend the Federal funds available under section 403. In repealing the IV-A and IV-F statutes, Congress freed the States from very detailed rules about the types of families that could be served, the benefits that could be provided, administrative procedures that needed to be followed, etc. However, to ensure that programs would achieve key program goals, the new statute imposes certain requirements and limitations on how States can use Federal funds to provide assistance. To a lesser extent, it also limits State flexibility on how to use State funds that count toward MOE.

The key provisions applicable only to the use of Federal funds are time limits, restrictions on expenditures for medical services and prohibitions on assistance to certain individuals and families, including certain aliens 4 and teen parents. Also, when Federal TANF funds are spent, all provisions applicable to the TANF program apply. Most importantly, work requirements, data collection, and requirements for child support assignment and cooperation apply.

More specifically, provisions governing the use of Federal TANF funds are found in three sections of the statute.

The new section 404 of the Social Security Act sets forth the basic rules for expenditure of Federal TANF funds.

  • They must be: (a) reasonably calculated to accomplish the purposes of the TANF program, or (b) an authorized expenditure for the State under title IV-A or IV-F as of September 30, 1995.


3  Later in the paper, we provide a chart summarizing the applicability of key provisions of the statute to the different program configurations. We also summarize the rules governing allowable uses of Federal and State MOE funds. Because of the complexity of the TANF statute, States should review all of these sections in concert, together with the underlying statutory language, in deciding what program design to pursue.

4 Other restrictions on the use of State funds for aliens are contained in title IV of the PRWORA.

- The statute specifies that assistance to low-income families for home heating and cooling costs falls within the purview of category (a) above.

- To fall under category (b), the expenditure would need to be recognized as an allowable expenditure under the State's approved IV-A or 1V-F plan in effect as of September 30, 1995.

  • Administrative expenditures may not exceed 15 percent of the total grant amount. The statute specifically excludes expenditures on "information technology and computerization needed for tracking or monitoring" required by or under TANF.
  • States may transfer up to 30 percent of the total grant to either the Child Care and Development Block Grant or the Social Services Block grant program.

- No more than 1/3 of the total amount transferred may go to the Social Services Block grant.5

- Once transferred, funds are no longer subject to the requirements of TANF, but are subject instead to the requirements of the program to which they are transferred. However, funds transferred to the Social Services Block grant may only be spent on children or families with income below 200 percent of poverty.

  • States may reserve their Federal TANF funds for future TANF expenditures without fiscal year limitation.
  • States may also use their Federal TANF funds for employment placement programs and for programs to fund individual development accounts.

The new section 408 imposes some restrictions on the use of Federal grant funds. Under this section, Federal funds may not be used to:

1) provide assistance to families that do not include a minor child residing with a custody" parent or other adult caretaker relative (or a pregnant individual);

2) provide assistance to a family that includes an adult who has received 60 months of countable assistance, unless the family qualifies for a hardship exception;

3) provide assistance to families which have not assigned rights to support or to individuals who do not cooperate in establishing paternity or obtaining child support;


5 In other words, States must transfer $2 to the Child Care and Development Block Grant in order to transfer $1 to the Social Services Block Grant.

6 Section 408(a)(2) provides that there must be a deduction of not less than 25 percent and the State may deny the family any assistance.


4) provide assistance to unmarried parents under age 18 who have a child at least 12 weeks old and are not attending high school or an equivalent training program;

5) provide assistance to unmarried parents under age 18 who do not live in appropriate adult supervised settings (unless exempt);

6) pay for medical services, except pre-pregnancy family planning services;

7) provide cash assistance for a 10-year period following conviction of fraud in order to receive benefits in more than one State;

8) provide assistance to fugitive felons, individuals fleeing felony prosecution or violating conditions of probation, and parole violators; or

9) provide assistance for a minor child who is absent (or expected to be absent) from the home, without good cause, for a specified minimum period of time.

Finally, section 115 of PRWORA calls for denial of TANF assistance to any individual convicted of a drug-related felony after August 22, 1996. However, the State may opt out of this provision or reduce its applicability, and certain kinds of Federal benefits are excepted.

VI. Basic Requirements Governing State MOE Expenditures

TANF7 MOE Requirements--General. States may expend their MOE funds on a broad range of activities without necessarily triggering Federal TANF requirements (such as time limits). Although States have significant discretion, especially with respect to State expenditures they make under separate State programs, there are statutory requirements which define the State expenditures which can be counted as TANF MOE. These are found at the new section 409(a)(7) of the Social Security Act.

Section 40Wa)(7)(N) provides for a dollar-for-dollar reduction in a State's State Family Assistance Grant (SFAG) to the extent that "qualified State expenditures" in the immediately preceding fiscal year are less than an applicable percentage of "historic State expenditures. " "Historic State expenditures" are subsequently defined to include expenditures by the State for FY 1994 under title IV-A (AFDC, EA, and child care) and IV-F (JOBS), as in effect during FY 1994.8

If a State fails to meet the work program participation requirements for a fiscal year, its MOE requirement is set at 80 percent of "historic State expenditures. " If a State meets these requirements, its MOE requirement is set at 75 percent of historic State expenditures.


7 For Contingency Fund MOE purposes, State expenditures outside the TANF Program do not count. See discussion in the following subsection for a further explanation.

8 See section 409(a)(7)(B)(iii) for the statutory provisions governing the definition of historic State expenditures.

Also, in determining a State's MOE requirement, any TV-A expenditures made by the State in 1994 on behalf of individuals now covered by a Tribal TANF program are excluded from "historic State expenditures. 9

Contingency Fund MOE Requirements. MOE requirements governing State access to the Contingency Fund are found at section 403(b) and 409(a)(10). In general, this paper does not address special requirements pertaining to the Contingency Fund MOE. However, for the purpose of program planning, it is important for States to note that only State expenditures made within the TANF program count toward the Contingency Fund MOE. State expenditures in outside programs may count toward the TANF MOE, but they do not qualify for Contingency Fund MOE purposes 10

Qualified State Expenditures. In order for State expenditures to be considered "qualified State expenditures" for TANF MOE purposes, they must: (1) be made to or on behalf of a family that is eligible under TANF or that would be eligible for TANF except for the fact that the family had exceeded its 5-year limit on assistance or has been excluded from receiving assistance under TANF by PRWORA's immigration provisions (see discussion elsewhere in this paper for guidance on definition of "eligible families" and allowable immigrant expenditures); (2) be for one of the types of assistance listed in section 409(a)(7)(B)(i)(I); and (3) comply with all other requirements and limitations in section 409(a)(7).

Section 409(a)(7)(B)(i) defines "qualified State expenditures" as total expenditures by the State in a fiscal year under all State programs for the following activities with respect to "eligible families":

(aa) - Cash assistance;
(bb) - Child care assistance;
(cc) - Educational activities designed to increase self-sufficiency, job training, and work, excluding any expenditure for public education in the State except which involve the provision of services or assistance to a member of an eligible family which is not generally available to persons who are not members of an eligible family;
(dd) - administrative costs in connection with the matters described in items (aa), (bb) and (cc) and (ee), but only to the extent that such costs do not exceed 15 percent of the total amount of qualified State expenditures for the fiscal year,(ee) - any other use of funds allowable under section 404(a) (1).

Meaning of "Eligible Families." Under the new section 409(a)(7)(B)(i)(I) of the Social Security Act, in order to count as qualified State expenditures for MOE purposes, State expenditures must be


9 In section 409(a)(7)(B)(iii)(11), the statute suggests an alternative calculation of historic expenditures. This language is apparently left over from a time when the bill included a fixed appropriation for State Family Assistance grants. We believe it is no longer viable, based on the final appropriation language.

10 The statutory language in both sections dealing with Contingency Fund MOE refers to State expenditures "under the State program funded under this part. " The TANF MOE counts expenditures "under all State programs," if otherwise qualified.

made with respect to "eligible families." Subclause (111) defines "eligible families" for this purpose to mean families eligible for assistance under the State TANF program and families who would be eligible for assistance except for the time-limit provision and the alien restrictions at section 402 of PRWORA.

We interpret this language to mean that State expenditures count as MOE only if made to or on behalf of families which:

have a child living with a parent or other adult relative (or to individuals which are expecting a child); and

are needy under the TANF income standards established by the State under its TANF plan. 11

Finally, many of the restrictions at section 408 -- including the teen parent provisions and the provisions on denial of assistance in fraud and fugitive felon cases -- do not apply to State MOE expenditures because they are written as restrictions on the use of the Federal grant. Additional information on these restrictions can be found in the chart and the discussion on use of Federal funds.

Allowable Immigrant Expenditures.12 States have the flexibility to use State MOE funds to serve "qualified" aliens. They also have the flexibility to use Federal TANF funds to serve "qualified" aliens who arrived prior to the enactment of the PRWORA (August 22, 1996). For "qualified"13 aliens arriving after enactment, there is a bar on the use of Federal TANF funds which extends five years from date to entry.14


11 We are not suggesting a definition of "child" for this purpose, but would expect States to use a definition consistent either with the "minor child" definition in section 419 or some other definition of child applicable under State law.

We are also not proposing Federal guidelines for what income standards would be used to determine if a family is needy, but will defer to State standards, for both TANF and MOE purposes.

12 As noted on p. 2, the following immigrant policy gives States broader flexibility to spend State MOE funds on immigrant families than was indicated in guidance sent to the State Commissioners on October 9, 1996 (i.e., in the answer to Q. 3). The new interpretation reflects the additional work done on interpreting "State program under this part" and on trying to find the appropriate meaning for the many pieces of the statute which directly and indirectly speak to this issue.

13 As defined under section 431 of PRWORA.

14 Pursuant to section 403(b) of PRWORA, the five-year bar does not apply to refugees, asylees, aliens whose deportation is being withheld under section 243(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and U.S. veterans and their spouses and unmarried dependent children.


States also have the flexibility to use State MOE funds to serve legal aliens who are not "qualified".15

Finally, under section 411(d) of PRWORA, States have the flexibility to use State MOE funds to serve aliens who are not lawfully present in the U.S., but only through enactment of a State law, after the date of PRWORA enactment, which "affirmatively provides" for such benefits.

Restrictions on Educational Expenditures. We believe the intent of the language in section 409(a)(7)(B)(i)(I)(cc) is to exclude general educational expenditures by State or local governments for services or activities at the elementary, secondary, or postsecondary level which serve general educational purposes. Expenditures on services targeted on "eligible families," but not available to' the general public, may be included. For example, MOE could include special classes for teen parents (that are TANF eligible) at high schools or other educational settings. Services to "eligible families" designed to accomplish the purposes specified in section 401 may also be included, pursuant to section 409(a)(7)(B)(i)(I)(ee).

General Restrictions. Pursuant to section 409(a)(7)(B)(iv), the following types of expenditures may NOT be included as part of a State's MOE:

(1) expenditures of funds which originated with the Federal government;

(2) State Medicaid expenditures;

(3) State funds which match Federal funds (or State expenditures which support claims for Federal matching funds); and

(4) expenditures which States make as a condition of receiving Federal funds under other programs. 16

Special Child Care Rules. The statute provides an exception to restriction (4) for certain child care expenditures. When the following requirements are met, expenditures by a State for child care may satisfy both the TANF MOE requirement and the MOE requirement related to accessing child care matching funds at the new section 418(a)(2)(C) of the Social Security Act. First, the amount of child care expenditures countable for TANF MOE purposes may not exceed the child care MOE requirement for the State. Secondly, to count as TANF MOE, the expenditures must meet all the other requirements of section 409(a)(7); to count as child care MOE, expenditures must be allowable


15 There is a technical problem in section 411 of PRWORA that prevents States from providing State or local public benefits to a handful of categories of legal aliens, e.g., temporary residents under IRCA, aliens with temporary protected status, and aliens in deferred action status. The structure of section 411 indicates Congress' belief that section 411 (a) included all groups of aliens lawfully present in the U.S. Therefore, the Administration has proposed a technical amendment that would allow States to provide State or local public benefits to all aliens lawfully present in the U.S.

16 Note the special child care rules below.


under the requirements of the Child Care and Development Fund.17 Before claiming child care expenditures under both MOE provisions, States need to check that the expenditures in fact meet the requirements of both programs. (E.g., there may be different families eligible for child care assistance under the two programs which prevent all expenditures from counting as MOE in both).

Because of general restriction (3) cited above, child care expenditures by the State which are matched with Federal funds (pursuant to section 418(a)(2)(C)) do not qualify as expenditures for TANF MOE.18

Interpretation of MOE Exclusion Language. Numerous questions have arisen about the language at section 409(a)(7)(B)(i)(Il), entitled "Exclusion of Transfers from Other State and Local Programs. "

We believe part of the confusion derives from the caption; it refers to transfers, but the actual statutory language does not. Our view is that the provision should be read as a provision applicable only to State MOE expenditures made under separate State programs. Such expenditures may not involve a literal transfer of funds, but in a figurative sense, they would involve taking funds that are outside the program and bringing them into the program's purview (for MOE purposes).

In general, our view is that this provision is designed to prevent supplantation. We believe Congress wanted to prevent States from substituting expenditures they had been making in outside programs for expenditures on cash welfare and related benefits to needy families. The language in (aa) specifically addresses this point. It provides that States may get credit for MOE purposes only for additional or new expenditures from State and local programs. The standard for determining this is whether their expenditures in the preceding fiscal year were above the levels expended in the 12 months preceding October 1, 1995.

Section 409(a)(7)(B)(i)(H)(bb) can be read as an exception to the general rule in (aa). It would allow a State to make expenditures in programs outside of TANF which were previously authorized under section 403 (and allowable at the time of enactment) and get full credit for such expenditures. In other words, there is not a requirement that these expenditures be additional or new expenditures (above FY 95. levels).

Through regulation, we do expect to require that States be able to document that any outside expenditures they claim for MOE purposes meet the requirements of (aa).19 At a minimum, States would have to identify the outside programs whose expenditures will be reflected as State MOE, establish what the State contributions to such programs were in the 12 months preceding October 1, 1995, and document the total State expenditures in such programs for the preceding fiscal year.


17 This is the name given by ACF for all the child care funding streams under title VI of PRWORA, including the discretionary Child Care and Development Block Grant and the nondiscretionary funds under section 418 of the Social Security Act.

18Likewise, State expenditures which are used to qualify for Federal child care matching funds do not qualify as child care MOE.

19 Pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, States will not be subject to specific documentation or reporting requirements prior to OMB approval.

States would also have to provide evidence that expenditures in outside programs which they want credited as MOE be expenditures on behalf of "eligible families". This evidence may be in the form of documentation of eligibility rules and procedures, or in other forms established by the State.20

VII. Definition of Assistance

The terms "assistance" and "families receiving assistance" are used in the PRWORA in many critical places, including: 1) in most of the prohibitions and requirements of section 408, which limit the provision of assistance; 2) the denominator of the work participation rates in section 407(b); and 3) the data collection requirements of section 411(a)21. Largely through reference, the term also affects the scope of the penalty provisions in section 409. Thus, it is important that States have some idea of our views of what constitutes assistance. At the same time, because TANF replaces AFDC, EA and JOBS, and provides much greater flexibility than these programs, what constitutes assistance is less clear than it was previously.

Because States are currently making key program decisions for which this information is relevant, we are offering an initial perspective on the matter. Our general view is that, because of the combining of the funding streams for AFDC, EA and JOBS, some forms of support that a State is permitted to carry out under TANF are not what would be considered to be welfare. Thus, our initial perspective is to exclude some of those forms of support as assistance. More specifically, we would define "assistance" as every form of support provided to families under TANF except for the following:

1) services that have no direct monetary value to an individual family and that do not involve implicit or explicit income support, such as counseling, case management, peer support and employment services that do not involve subsidies or other forms of income support; and

2) one-time, short-term assistance (e.g., automobile repair to retain employment and avoid welfare receipt and appliance repair to maintain living arrangements).

We believe that these exclusions are consistent with Congressional intent to provide States with flexibility to design programs that will focus their resources on enhancing parental responsibility and self-sufficiency. At the same time, it will enable them, for example, to exclude families who receive no financial support from participation rate calculations and individuals who only receive one-time help in avoiding welfare dependency from requirements such as assignment of child support rights.


20 States would also have to be able to document that MOE expenditures on educational assistance and administrative costs meet the special limitations at sections 409(a)(7)(B)(i)(I)(cc) and (dd), respectively.

21 In the absence of any statutory language or legislative history to indicate the contrary, we are viewing the term "assistance" as having the same meaning wherever it occurs in the statute in phrases such as "families receiving assistance" and "no assistance for..."one-time help in avoiding welfare dependency from requirements such as assignment of child support rights.

The complexities involved in formulating a definition of "assistance" suggest that it is an area which could be greatly illuminated by both State practice under TANF and by the rulemaking process. Thus, we welcome suggestions from States and other parties as to what an appropriate definition would be.

VIII. Conclusion

As we continue to work on the development of proposed -- and then final -- TANF rules, we welcome comments and suggestions on major issues like those discussed in this paper. In particular, we welcome suggestions about policy positions and administrative actions which we could adopt which would help further the work objectives and other goals of welfare reform.







Covered by State plan




Needy per income stds
in State TANF plan




Restricted disclosure


Not applicable

Not applicable

Allowable expenditures

For purposes and as authorized under IV-A or IV-F as of 9/30/95

Count toward both TANF and Contingency Fund MOEs. Must be for purposes of program or for cash asst, child care, certain education, or admin costs

Count only toward TANF MOE (not Contingency Fund MOE). See State TANF section for allowable purposes.

15% admin cost cap

Yes; ADP exception



Medical services

Only pre-pregnancy family

No specific restriction

No specific restriction

24-month work reqt




2-month work reqt




407 work reqt




work sanctions








Child reqt

Yes; "minor child"



Child ineligible when
absent minimum period




Child support

Assignment & cooperation
Req’d. Share of collections to Fed govt.

Assignment & cooperation
Req’d. Share of collections to Fed govt.

Assignment & cooperation may not be req’d.
No share of collections for Fed. Govt.

Time limit on assistance




Teen school attendance


No requirement

No requirement

Teen parent living

Must be adult-supervised

No requirement

No requirement

Federal non-discrimination statues

4 statutes applicable

4 statutes applicable

No specific provision

Fraud cases

10-yr exclusion

No exclusion

No exclusion

Drug felons

Receive reduced benefits

Receive reduced benefits

No provision

Data reporting



Not required

Fugitive felons

Barred from assistance

No bar

No bar

1 This column would also apply to programs where State MOE funds are co-mingled with Federal TANF funds,

2 Under this scenario, Federal and State funds are not co-mingled. Since State funds are segregated, some -- but not --of the Federal TANF rules apply.

3 These programs count towards State MOE. They are not subject to TANF requirements, per se, but are subject to the MOE restrictions at section 409(a)(7).

4 Per definition of "eligible families."

Last Reviewed Date: