STATE OF ILLINOIS

DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES

(ACF-812 - March 2011)

TANF OVERVIEW

The TANF program has the following four purposes as defined by federal regulation:

  1. Provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives;
  2. End the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage;
  3. Prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establish annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies;
  4. Encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.


Budget: The State of Illinois receives a TANF block grant of $585,056,960 under the current law. The state is required to match this amount at the 80% level with state dollars which are known as Maintenance of Effort (MOE) dollars. However, if a state meets the minimum work participation rate after caseload reduction, as Illinois did, the minimum basic MOE for that fiscal year is lowered to a 75% match, which is approximately $430 million. States may use Federal TANF funds and MOE funds for expenditures that are reasonably calculated to accomplish the purposes of TANF. MOE funds can be co-mingled with Federal TANF funds, segregated or used to set up separate state programs. However, States have more flexibility in spending their State MOE funds than their Federal TANF funds. Eligible families assisted through a separate State program are not generally subject to TANF requirements, including work participation requirements, child support collection requirements, the time limit on receipt of assistance, and data collection and reporting requirements. In other words, by definition, States operating separate programs avoid TANF requirements; they have more flexibility to use the funds available in these programs to help eligible families. But, ACF does monitor to ensure that State's do not set up separate state programs for the purpose of avoiding the work participation rates.
Illinois has set up three separate funds for paying for TANF. This is primarily only a budgeting process but does allow us to apply different reporting requirements.

  1. Separate State Programs - All two-parent cases, Cases with a Child Under 1, Refugee cases and Pregnant Women only cases;
  2. TANF MOE - Recipients working the minimum number of hours, Recipients in Post Secondary Education with a 2.5 GPA, Child Only cases and Cases coded with an M or Q in Item 73 (disabled spouse or child requiring the parents care)
  3. All other TANF cases


Work Requirements: : In order for an individual to be counted as participating they must be working or in countable work activities for at least 30 hours per week. However, a single custodial parent or caretaker relative with a child under age six will count as engaged in work if he or she participates for at least an average of 20 hours per week. And a single teen head of household or married teen who is in school is deemed as meeting the work requirement.

The following nine activities count toward the first 20 hours (30 hours for two-parent cases) of participation. This is per the federal regulations and not necessarily as defined in our State Plan.

  1. Unsubsidized employment;
  2. Subsidized private-sector employment
  3. Subsidized public-sector employment
  4. Work experience;
  5. On-the-job training;
  6. Job search and job readiness assistance;
  7. Community service programs;
  8. Vocational educational training (for 12 months only);
  9. Providing child care services to an individual who is participating in a community service program.


Above 20 hours per week (30 hours for two-parent cases), the following three activities may also count toward hours of participation:

  1. Job skills training directly related to employment;
  2. Education directly related to employment;
  3. Satisfactory attendance at secondary school or in a course of study leading to a certificate of general equivalence.


Caseload Reduction: The participation rate for each state can be reduced based upon that states caseload reduction. If the average monthly number of cases receiving assistance, including assistance under a separate State program, in a State in the preceding fiscal year was lower than the average monthly number of cases that received assistance in FFY 2005, the minimum overall participation rate the State must meet for the fiscal year decreases by the number of percentage points the prior-year caseload fell in comparison to the FFY 2005 caseload.


Data Reporting and Collection:
In order for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to track the participation rate of all states, they are required to provide data on either a sample of cases monthly or submit data on the entire caseload monthly. This data has been collected and transmitted to ACF since the TANF program began in Illinois. However, Section 812 of the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 requires states to submit a Report on Engagement in Additional Work Activities. Transmittal No. TANF-ACF-PI-2011-03 states - For the Report on Engagement, with respect to each work-eligible individual in a family receiving TANF or SSP-MOE assistance during the reporting period, the States must collect and report the following information: (1) whether the individual engages in any activities that are directed toward attaining self-sufficiency and (2) if yes, the specific activities that (a) do not qualify as a countable work activity, but are otherwise reasonably calculated to help the family move to self-sufficiency or (b) that could be a countable work activity, but for the fact that either the work-eligible has not engaged in such activities for a sufficient number of hours; the work-eligible individual has reached a maximum time limit allowed for having participation in the activity count; or the number of work-eligible individuals engaged in such activity exceeds a statutory limitation.


Summary 

  • For March 2011, Illinois randomly sampled 270 TANF cases. This includes 60 newly approved TANF cases and 210 active TANF cases.
  • Of these 270 randomly selected cases, 119 were child-only cases. 6 other cases were selected but dropped because it was later determined they included a child under the age of one. Illinois uses state funds only for child under one cases and, therefore, does not include in the federal sample. The remaining 145 cases have work-eligible adults who are required to meet either the federal participation rate or a federal exclusion reason.
  • Of these 145 cases, 65 cases are meeting participation. The remaining 80 cases/individuals are not meeting federal participation. Below is a statistical summary of the reasons why these cases/individuals are not meeting.
  1. Below are the reasons why the 80 individual/cases are not meeting federal participation.
      • 17 cases - 1st month on assistance and not engaged yet
      • 16 cases - Failed to engage
      • 14 cases - Meet a state exemption reason
      • 13 cases - Sanctioned
      • 13 cases - "Other" - engaged in countable activities but insufficient hours available
      • 4 cases - Sanctioned but exceed the exclusion limitations
      • 2 cases - Child with a disability
      • 1 case - Engaged but activity has not started yet
    • With regards to the 13 cases/individuals that are engaged in countable activities but have insufficient hours to meet participation the activities are as follows:
      • 1 case - Unsubsidized Employment
      • 7 cases - Work Experience
      • 5 cases - On-The-Job Training
  2. The 65 cases meeting federal participation are engaged in the following activities:
    • 23 cases - Unsubsidized Employment
    • 17 cases - Work Experience
    • 10 cases - Community Service
    • 8 cases - Job Search
    • 6 cases - Vocational Education
    • 1 case - Teen Parent Services (High School)


Analysis:
The State of Illinois has laws, rules, and policies in relation to welfare-to-work that are designed to best suit the characteristics of Illinois TANF clientele with consideration to the broad contrast in Illinois' demographics. Federal law requires that States have a minimum of 50% of their work-eligible adults engaged in countable work activities or employment to avoid federal financial penalties. For FFY '09, Illinois achieved a federal participation rate of 49.3% which is well above the national average of 29.4%. For FFY '10, Illinois achieved a 49.1% rate. For the first 2 quarters of FFY '11 (which include this March sample), Illinois's unofficial rate is 42.4%. Illinois has avoided federal financial penalties due to caseload reduction allowances provided by the federal regulatory agency. Even with the many differences in the needs of our clients Illinois has worked diligently to provide assistance to each and every family as they work towards self-sufficiency.