(Publisher’s Note-Governor Romney and surrogates like Rick Santorum have attacked President Obama for waiving the work requirement for welfare benefits. This attack goes well beyond “re-purposing facts” or “identifying a unique spin on facts”…it is a blatant and, due to its interference with the democratic process, criminal lie. Governor Romney and his aides have read the letter, and read it carefully. They produced attack ads based on the memorandum. The Rational Middle has copied the text directly from the source so that you the readers may read for yourself and determine your own truth. MC)
Temporary Assistance for
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Office of Family Assistance
Washington, D.C. 20447
Transmittal No. TANF-ACF-IM-2012-03
Date: July 12, 2012
|TO:||States administering the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program and other interested parties|
|SUBJECT:||Guidance concerning waiver and expenditure authority under Section 1115|
|REFERENCE:||Section 1115 of the Social Security Act. [42 U.S.C. 1315]; Section 402 of the Social Security Act. [42 U.S.C. 602]|
|BACKGROUND:||Section 1115 of the Social Security Act provides authority for the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider and approve experimental, pilot, or demonstration projects which, in the Secretary’s judgment, are likely to assist in promoting the objectives of Title IV-A. Section 1115 allows for waiver of compliance with section 402 of the Social Security Act to the extent and for the period necessary to enable a state to carry out an approved project. The statute also provides authority for costs of such projects which would not otherwise be an allowable use of funds under Part A of Title IV to be regarded as an allowable use of funds, to the extent and for the period approved.
As specified in statute, the purpose of Part A is to increase the flexibility of states in operating a program designed to: (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; and (4) encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.
|PURPOSE:||HHS is encouraging states to consider new, more effective ways to meet the goals of TANF, particularly helping parents successfully prepare for, find, and retain employment. Therefore, HHS is issuing this information memorandum to notify states of the Secretary’s willingness to exercise her waiver authority under section 1115 of the Social Security Act to allow states to test alternative and innovative strategies, policies, and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.
States led the way on welfare reform in the 1990s — testing new approaches and learning what worked and what did not. The Secretary is interested in using her authority to approve waiver demonstrations to challenge states to engage in a new round of innovation that seeks to find more effective mechanisms for helping families succeed in employment. In providing for these demonstrations, HHS will hold states accountable by requiring both a federally-approved evaluation and interim performance targets that ensure an immediate focus on measurable outcomes. States must develop evaluation plans that are sufficient to evaluate the effect of the proposed approach in furthering a TANF purpose as well as interim targets the state commits to achieve. States that fail to meet interim outcome targets will be required to develop an improvement plan and can face termination of the waiver project.
The demonstration authority provided by section 1115 and sound evaluation of approved projects will provide valuable knowledge that will help lead to improvements in achieving the purposes of the TANF program.
|INFORMATION:||Scope of Authority
Section 1115 authorizes waivers concerning section 402. Accordingly, other provisions of the TANF statute are not waivable. For example, the purposes of TANF are not waivable, because they are contained in section 401. The prohibitions on assistance are not waivable, because they are contained in section 408.
While the TANF work participation requirements are contained in section 407, section 402(a)(1)(A)(iii) requires that the state plan “[e]nsure that parents and caretakers receiving assistance under the program engage in work activities in accordance with section 407.” Thus, HHS has authority to waive compliance with this 402 requirement and authorize a state to test approaches and methods other than those set forth in section 407, including definitions of work activities and engagement, specified limitations, verification procedures, and the calculation of participation rates. As described below, however, HHS will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF.
Moreover, HHS is committed to ensuring that any demonstration projects approved under this authority will be focused on improving employment outcomes and contributing to the evidence base for effective programs; therefore, terms and conditions will require a federally-approved evaluation plan designed to build our knowledge base. TANF funds may be used to fund an approved evaluation and state funds spent on an approved evaluation may be considered state maintenance-of-effort (MOE) expenditures. In addition, terms and conditions will require either interim targets for each performance measure or a strategy for establishing baseline performance on a set of performance measures and a framework for how interim goals will be set after the baseline measures are established. The terms and conditions will establish consequences for failing to meet interim performance targets including, but not limited to, the implementation of an improvement plan and, if the failure to meet performance targets continues, termination of the waivers and demonstration project.
In exercising her broad discretion for waivers, the Secretary is interested in approaches that seek to improve employment outcomes. Accordingly:
Terms and conditions will require periodic reporting on how the implementation and operation of the demonstration is progressing, including reporting on the performance measures, in addition to evaluation reports. To support learning and knowledge development, ACF staff may conduct on-site visits to observe demonstration operations and meet with relevant managers and staff.
|INQUIRIES:||Inquiries and applications for projects involving waiver requests should be directed to the appropriate Regional TANF Program Manager.|