On the Horizon – Welfare Reform

Next week the MCC will once again be working on legislation proposing various reforms to the temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) program. TANF provides cash assistance to parents and caretakers raising children. The program is only available to the very poor. A mother and two children, for example, may have a monthly income of no more than $292. That is just 17% of the federal poverty level.

The MCC played a key role in amending SB 24 when it was debated by the Missouri Senate. As approved by the Senate, the legislation requires the Missouri Department of Social Services to provide a face-to-face orientation for applicants so they can understand the expectations of the program. This is not currently being done.

Next week, the House Committee on Children and Families will hold a public hearing on SB 24. Consideration of amendments is expected and some of them may take a harsh approach on how to reform TANF. However, other amendments may be more positive in nature, such as taking more seriously a declared goal of TANF to encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

Some kind of TANF reform is likely to be approved by the Missouri House and the whole issue could end up before a conference committee of House and Senate members to work out differences. We will keep you informed as this issue moves forward.

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