TANF-ACF-PA-2000-04 (Guidance concerning State Maintenance-of-Effort (MOE) funds paid to a Tribe with an Approved Tribal Family Assistance plan)

Publication Date: November 27, 2000


State agencies administering the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, Indian tribes administering approved TANF Plans, and other interested parties.


Guidance concerning State Maintenance-of-Effort (MOE) funds paid to a Tribe with an Approved Tribal Family Assistance plan


Section 409(a)(7) of the Social Security Act (Act), Section 412 of the Act, 45 CFR part 263, subpart A and 45 CFR part 286


This Policy Announcement rescinds Policy Announcement TANF-ACF-PA-97-2, dated June 2, 1997 and replaces it with the guidance in this announcement.


Once an Indian tribe or a consortium of Indian tribes has an approved Tribal Family Assistance plan, for which a Tribal Family Assistance Grant (TFAG) is payable, we will reduce the State's Family Assistance Grant.  The State's MOE level will also be reduced proportionately pursuant to section 409(a)(7)(B)(iii) of the Act and 45 CFR 263.1(b).

For the Indian tribe or consortium of Indian tribes, the TFAG is the principal source of funds to provide welfare-related services to families residing in its service area.  As a result, we have been asked whether State funds paid to the Tribe may count toward the State's basic MOE requirement.

TANF-ACF-PA-97-2 dated June 2, 1997, advised States that State funds paid to an Indian tribe or consortium of Tribes with an approved Tribal Family Assistance plan may count toward the State's basic MOE requirement.  It also explained the TANF program rules that apply when a State provides the Tribe with MOE funds from its TANF program (TANF MOE funds).  Since then, both States and Tribes have mentioned the practical difficulties of attaching State TANF program requirements to State TANF MOE funds paid to a Tribe that operates its own approved Tribal TANF program.  Since the release of TANF-ACF-PA-97-2, we published the final TANF regulations at 45 CFR parts 260-265 and 45 CFR part 286 for States and Tribes respectively.  We have also participated in various discussions with State and Tribal representatives.  These activities broadened our understanding about the relationships between and the interaction of State and Tribal TANF programs.  These experiences also convinced us of the need to reexamine application of TANF programmatic requirements when State TANF MOE funds are used by the Tribe to provide "assistance."  Accordingly, this guidance should help to facilitate administration of the State MOE funds paid to a Tribe.


State funds paid to an Indian tribe with an approved Tribal Family Assistance plan may count toward the State's basic MOE requirement in the fiscal year in which the State makes this expenditure.  Refer below for a general discussion of the MOE requirements and other important considerations applicable to both the State providing the MOE funds and the Tribe receiving those funds.


Basically, under the MOE requirement, States must expend their own funds to help eligible families move toward self-sufficiency by providing various benefits or services.  An eligible family is defined at 45 CFR 263.2(b).  At a minimum, an eligible family must consist of a minor child who resides with a custodial parent or adult relative (or consists of a pregnant individual).  An eligible family must also be "needy."  "Needy" means financially deprived -- i.e., lacking adequate income and resources according to the appropriate income and resource (when applicable) criteria established by the State and contained in its TANF plan.  Many tribal families will meet the appropriate financial standard to be an eligible family.  To ensure that as many eligible families are reached as possible, where the appropriate Tribal financial standard is different from the State's standard, the State could amend its TANF plan to adopt the financial eligibility criteria the Tribe has set to receive Tribal benefits or services as the State's standard for "needy" for Tribal benefits from MOE funds.

The final regulations at 45 CFR 263.2 (a) specify the kinds of expenditures for, or on behalf of, eligible families that count toward the State's basic MOE requirement.  These include expenditures to provide cash assistance, child care assistance, certain educational activities, or any other use that is reasonably calculated to accomplish the purpose of the TANF program.  Giving State funds to an Indian Tribe or a consortium of Indian tribes operating an approved Tribal TANF plan is consistent with a TANF purpose.  At a minimum, the funds will help the Tribe provide assistance to needy families so children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives. The funds will also help toward ending dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage (TANF purposes 1 and 2).

Thus, the State has a countable expenditure toward meeting its reduced MOE level while also helping Tribal families receive the services they need to move toward economic self-sufficiency.

In summary, if the Tribe or consortium of Tribes expends the State's funds on behalf of eligible families in its Tribal TANF program who also meet the appropriate TANF income and resource (if applicable) standards in the State's plan, then the State may count the entire amount toward its basic MOE requirement.  As with any expenditure, this still means that States must substantiate that the funds provided to the Tribe met all MOE requirements.

Other Important Considerations

The State could give the Tribe State MOE funds from its TANF program.  Or, the State could have used State funds that were totally separate from its TANF program funds to provide to the Tribe.  Each of these funding methods has potential implications for the State.

State MOE Funds From The State's TANF Program:

If the State's MOE payment to the Tribe comes from the TANF program, then the eligible families in the Tribe who are provided "assistance" (as defined in 45 CFR 260.32 and 45 CFR 286.10) with these funds would arguably be subject to the same TANF requirements as apply to the States.

Yet, section 412 of the Act gives Indian tribes, as defined in section 419(4) of the Act (and 45 CFR section 286.5 of the final regulations), or consortia of such Tribes, the authority to operate its own TANF programs beginning July 1, 1997.  Thus, once the Tribe receives the State funds, it would expend these funds in its own TANF program by either commingling them with or segregating them from its Tribal TANF grant funds.  These approved Tribal TANF programs have TANF requirements in the same important areas as States.  For example, like States, Tribal TANF grantees are expected to meet work participation rates, time limit requirements, and data reporting requirements.

It is unrealistic to expect the Tribe and the affected families to simultaneously follow both the State TANF requirements and the Tribal TANF requirements.  Only one group of TANF requirements should apply.  Accordingly, we have determined that Tribal TANF rules should apply because the families are being served under the Tribal TANF program.  The State no longer includes these families in its Federal caseload count.  We believe this policy will facilitate ease of administration for both States and Tribes, while still assuring TANF requirements are met in an appropriate fashion.  Thus, for the purposes of determining TANF requirements, State funds paid to the Tribe would be treated as though the funds had been "transferred" to the Tribe.

The Tribe's funding method dictates which Tribal TANF requirements apply.  All Tribal TANF requirements apply whenever Tribal TANF grant funds are used to provide "assistance."  Therefore, any State MOE funds, regardless of source, that the Tribe commingles with its Tribal TANF grant funds means that the Tribe's time limit requirements, work participation requirements and child support requirements apply when the Tribe uses the State MOE funds to provide "assistance" to an eligible family.  If the Tribe segregates the State's MOE funds from its Tribal TANF grant funds, expending each separately in its TANF program, then the Tribe's work participation requirements and child support requirements apply, but time limits would not, when the Tribe uses the State MOE funds to provide "assistance" to an eligible family.  The time limit requirement pertains solely to the use of Tribal TANF grant funds or commingled funds.

Funding From Separate State MOE Funds:

No State TANF requirements attach to "assistance" provided with State MOE funds that are separate from the State's TANF program.  However, since the Tribe will be expending such funds as part of its Tribal TANF program, the Tribe's TANF requirements apply as discussed above, depending on whether the Tribe commingles or segregates the funds.


States and Tribes need to establish a mechanism that will enable the State to know how the Tribe has used the State's MOE funds and the number of eligible families served with the funds.  This is because States must continue to report on the TANF Financial Report form (ACF-196) all MOE funds contributed to a Tribe or consortium of Tribes operating an approved Tribal TANF plan.  MOE funds sent to the Tribe from the State's TANF program would be reported in column (B).  Separate State program MOE funds sent to the Tribe would be reported in column (C).  States must also include information about this expenditure on their annual report on State MOE programs (form ACF-204).

States do not have to include information about eligible Tribal families receiving "assistance" with State TANF MOE funds in their quarterly data reports.  The State has already removed these families from its Federal caseload count.  Further, it is highly likely that these family members would also be receiving some form of Tribal TANF "assistance."  Therefore, information about them would be included in the Tribal TANF Data Reports.  In addition, the incidence of using State TANF MOE funds to provide "assistance" is probably quite low.

Similarly, although the question arises as to whether a State which gave the Tribe separate State MOE funds and wishes to qualify for caseload reduction credit under 45 CFR 261 subpart D or receive a performance bonus must include information on Tribal TANF families receiving assistance from those separate State program MOE funds, we believe that it is the Tribal reporting requirements that should apply.  As previously mentioned, the State would have adjusted its Federal caseload numbers because these families are now served under the Tribe's TANF plan.  Further, under 45 CFR section 286.245(b), Tribes must report on all families receiving "assistance" under the Tribal TANF program.  Therefore, the State would not have to include such families on its SSP-MOE Data Report.  This policy has the advantage of providing unduplicated information on Tribal families receiving assistance.

Effective Date:

June 2, 1997, the date of the rescinded TANF-ACF-PA-97-2.


Please direct inquiries to the appropriate Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Regional Administrator.


Donald Sykes, Director
Office of Community Services

Alvin C. Collins, Director
Office of Family Assistance

Current as of: