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State Accepting Public Comment on Federal Program Spending

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is currently accepting public comments on the state’s plan for spending Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding from the federal government.

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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is currently accepting public comments on the state’s plan for spending Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding from the federal government.

TANF provides funding to states to support families with financial assistance and related services to help meet their children’s basic needs.

The state plan describes programs and services paid for with TANF, including:

  • The Family Independence Program, which provided cash assistance to more than 27,000 people experiencing low income in June 2022 alone.
  • Child care.
  • Services to support employment and self-sufficiency, including job search services and assistance with transportation.
  • Support for children in foster care and adoption assistance.
  • Hunger relief.
  • Services for school children at risk of struggling with academics.
  • Buying diapers.

Michigan received roughly $773 million from the federal government to support TANF, with $528.1 million appropriated to MDHHS for fiscal year 2022.

“TANF provides important funding from our federal partners as we work to support families who are struggling to pay for food, clothing and other necessities for their children,” Lewis Roubal, chief deputy director for opportunity at the MDHHS said. “TANF also helps parents find jobs. We welcome input from our residents about our plans for spending these federal dollars that come to Michigan.”

Last week, Peter Ruark, senior policy analyst at the Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP), joined the Governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL) Safety Net Work Group to discuss the state’s plan for spending TANF, MLPP’s plans for public comment and explored philanthropy’s role in ensuring TANF works for families in need.

“COVID has negatively impacted families and children in Detroit and across Michigan in many ways, including financially. Programs like TANF are vital to helping families stabilize and stay on track to reaching their goals, including kids’ educational goals,” Matt Hoerauf, associate program officer for The Skillman Foundation and member of the OFL Safety Net Work Group said. “We are grateful for the emerging group of Michigan foundations that are seeking better ways to support struggling families through government efforts. We hope more foundations will join the conversation, alongside policy experts, state government leaders, and—importantly—Michigan families and youth. The Skillman Foundation will continue to link arms with these partners to help ensure that Michigan is a place where children and families flourish."

TANF dollars have not always worked for families most in need. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, TANF—enacted in 1996—replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), which provided cash assistance to families with children experiencing poverty.

TANF cash assistance can play a critical role in supporting families during times of need. However, TANF reaches fewer families and provides less cash assistance to families than AFDC, leaving more families in deep poverty. States have also shifted the funds that previously went directly to families to fund other programs.

Michigan's TANF allocation has gone to support state department administration and college financial support for middle- and upper-income families. 

“Direct cash assistance is an important and effective element of our collective efforts to ensure all Michiganders are financially stable," Mike Goorhouse, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area and member of the OFL Safety Net Work Group said. "The TANF funding stream is one of our country and state’s largest commitments to direct cash assistance, although much of the funding is not currently used for what many of us think of when we think of flexible, unrestricted cash supports. Foundations individually and collectively need to educate ourselves about this important element of our social safety net, and ways our state could better use the TANF funding stream to support more families."

The public is encouraged to submit comments to [email protected] through September 5.

“We applaud the state’s willingness to seek input from Michiganders to help improve the state’s TANF plan,” Karen Aldridge-Eason, foundation liaison, OFL said. “The public comment period provides a window of opportunity for philanthropy to support and elevate community voice and share how changes to the administration of TANF funds can make a real difference in the lives of families with lower incomes.”  

Want more?

Read the TANF State Plan.  

The public can submit comments by email to [email protected] through September 5. Or, reach out to a member of the Safety Net Work Group by connecting with Dana Linnane, OFL’s director of research & planning.

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