Notice & Comment

ACF Seeks Input on Limiting TANF Benefits Use at Certain Establishments, by Shannon Allen

The Administration of Children and Families (“ACF”) seeks comment on a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) to amend the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”) regulations to “require states . . . to maintain policies and practices that prevent TANF funded assistance from being used in any electronic benefit transfer transaction in specified locations.”

TANF is a block grant that gives funding to states to create and administer a program to fulfill the purposes of TANF including:

1. assisting needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes or homes of relatives;

2. reducing the dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work and marriage;

3. preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and

4. encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

In order to receive TANF funding, states are required to spend a minimum amount of non-federal funds, called maintenance-of-effort (“MOE”), to “help eligible families in ways that further a TANF purpose.” Specifically, TANF and MOE funds may be spent on “assistance,” (including cash payments, vouchers, and other forms of benefits) created to meet a family’s ongoing basic needs for: food, clothing, shelter, utilities, household goods, personal care items, general incidental expenses, transportation and child care provided to families who are not employed.

This NPRM responds to provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (“Public Law 112-96”) which requires states receiving TANF grants to “maintain policies and practices” as needed “to prevent” benefits provided by the program “from being used … in: any liquor store; any casino, gambling casino, or gaming establishment; or any retail establishment that provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment.”  Prior to the enactment of Public Law 112-96, no federal rules restricted a recipient’s use of TANF benefits.

This proposed rule imposes a new reporting requirement and a new penalty.  Specifically, states will be required to report to the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) by February 22, 2014, (1) their “implementation of policies and practices related to restricting . . . TANF assistance in EBT transactions” at specific establishments and (2) a statement as to how they intend to implement said policies and procedures. The state plan must include an explanation of how the state plans to ensure that:

1. recipients of the assistance have adequate access to their cash assistance, and

2. recipients of assistance have access to using or withdrawing assistance with minimal fees or charges. HHS will reduce the state’s grant for failure to comply.

Interested parties are invited to submit comments, identified by Docket No: ACF_FRDOC_0001-0045, by May 7, 2014, by any one of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal:;
  • Mail: Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children and Families, 5th Floor East, 370 L’Enfant Promenade SW., Washington, DC 20024, Attention: Robert Shelbourne; or
  • Hand Delivery/Courier: OFA/ACF, 5th Floor East, 901 D Street SW., Washington, DC 20251.

This post was originally published on the legacy ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Notice and Comment blog, which merged with the Yale Journal on Regulation Notice and Comment blog in 2015.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email