Gov. Bill Lee signs bill to ‘modernize’ Tennessee’s TANF program

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Posted at 10:51 AM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 14:13:18-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Gov. Bill Lee has signed the TANF Opportunity Act to “modernize” Tennessee’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

In a statement released prior to the bill signing, Lee applauded the General Assembly for passing the bill, saying in part: “By modernizing these vital funds, we are providing a pathway to prosperity for Tennessee families. I am especially proud that we are increasing educational opportunities that can bridge the gap to self-sufficiency for Tennesseans.”

The federal program is meant to help families find work by providing cash assistance, transportation and help with childcare and job training.

According go the governor’s office, key components of the legislation include:

  • “Increasing the monthly average cash assistance families receive under Tennessee’s TANF funded Families First Program from $277 to $387.”
  • “Creating a two-year Educational Opportunity Pilot Program for qualifying families seeking a degree, certification, or other educational advancement.”
  • “Establishing the Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Program to invest $180 million in providing comprehensive support to families as they move from crisis to career pathways.”
  • “Providing $50 million in Families First Community Grants to smaller non-profits across the state.”
  • “Establishing a 21-member TANF Advisory Board to provide input on the direction of the TANF program and select partners to conduct program research.”
  • “Implementing a $191 million TANF reserve cap so that beginning in Federal Fiscal Year 2022, unspent funds beyond that cap will be used to fund Families First Community Grants.”
  • “Protecting the integrity of the TANF program by increasing civil penalties for individuals who try to secure benefits with a false identity.”

Read more about the program here.