Trump’s Proposed TANF Cut Would Hurt Children, Families, Experts Say

President Trump’s proposed $2.2 billion cut to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in 2018 would reduce states’ federal TANF funds by 10% to 18% and over the next decade, the TANF cut would total $22 billion, experts said.

Moreover, states have great flexibility to spend TANF funds as they wish, and they might be pressured to use some of their reduced TANF funds to plug their budget holes, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That’s because the Trump budget proposes to cut some $2.5 trillion over the next decade across programs for low- and moderate-income people, including a range of important programs for which the states receive significant federal funds.

Budget Highlights:

  • The cuts would total more than the amount that all states combined spend on work programs.
  • In 11 states, the cuts would be more than half of what the states spend on basic assistance.
  • In 18 states, the cuts would be more than half of what the states spend on child care assistance.

With their flexibility under TANF, states could respond to the cuts in a number of ways. They could, for instance, cut all of their TANF-funded programs by an equal percentage, or they could target the cuts in one area such as basic assistance.

Several states face budget shortfalls, they often look first to core TANF activities, like basic assistance, for savings. In response to increased need and budget shortfalls caused by the Great Recession, several states made disproportionate cuts to cash assistance by tightening time limits, reducing benefits or scaling back eligibility.

Because many states already spend so little on basic assistance, they likely would also have to cut popular programs like child care, state earned income tax credit programs that support working families, and child welfare programs that provide services to some of the most vulnerable children.

Several states face budget shortfalls this year and are already making tough decisions about how to balance their budgets. Some are considering cutting TANF basic assistance programs. The president’s proposals would make it harder for states to fulfill TANF’s core purpose: to provide financial support for families in need and help parents find work.

Fourteen states already have ten or fewer families on TANF for every 100 families in poverty. The president’s TANF cuts would force states to push more families off assistance and deeper into poverty.

Medicaid Cuts

The House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) (HR 1628) would threaten Medicaid coverage and access to care for millions of people with disabilities and their families.  It would radically restructure federal Medicaid financing and effectively end the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion, reducing enrollment by 14 million people by 2026 and cutting federal spending by $834 billion over ten years, CBPP said.

Medicaid cuts would threaten key resources for students with disabilities. Many children with disabilities rely on individualized education plans (IEPs) detailing the education and related services they need.  IEPs often include services that Medicaid covers for children, such as physical and speech therapy.  Schools’ ability to leverage Medicaid funding enables them to meet their requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and provide the range of services needed to educate students with disabilities. Info: (report).


Impact of Trump Budget Proposals on Federal TANF Funds to Top States in 2018
  Current Level, 2017 President’s Proposed Cut, 2018
  State Block Grant (includes Tribal Grants) Block Grant Reduction Total Estimated Federal Funds Cut Percent Cut
New York 2,442,930,602 -236,921,047 -476,838,399 -18%
California 3,733,817,784 -362,114,265 -362,114,265 -10%
Texas 486,256,752 -47,158,302 -94,913,007 -18%
Massachusetts 459,371,116 -44,550,871 -89,665,169 -18%
Washington 404,331,754 -39,213,027 -76,582,942 -17%
Michigan 775,352,858 -75,195,509 -75,195,509 -10%
Ohio 727,968,260 -70,600,042 -70,600,042 -10%
Pennsylvania 719,499,305 -69,778,703 -69,778,703 -10%
Wisconsin 318,188,410 -30,858,646 -61,686,004 -18%
North Carolina 302,239,599 -29,311,894 -58,915,474 -18%
Illinois 585,056,960 -56,740,174 -56,740,174 -10%
US Total 16,488,667,235 -1,599,109,000 -2,207,109,000 -13%

About Frank Klimko

Frank Klimko is a nationally known journalist, grants expert and speech writer/speaker. He has years of experience helping nonprofits devise lists of the right funding opportunities and secure funding from these foundations and corporate entities. Clients have focused on an array of areas including child care, homeless, hunger and K-12 education. Additionally, he is a Freedom of Information Act expert, who has helped numerous clients with securing proprietary information from the federal government. Currently, Frank Klimko writes the Children & Youth Funding Report and Private Grants Alert, which are Washington DC-based publications. CYF is a daily publication covering Congress, the Education Dept. and the various federal regulatory agencies. PGA, another daily publication, covers the world of private philanthropy.
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