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Ford: Bill revising TANF eligibility requirements passes Senate

STATEHOUSE (Feb. 1, 2021) – A bill authored by State Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute) seeking to revise the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program today passed the Senate by a vote of 43 to 5.

In Indiana, only six out of 100 families living in poverty are able to take advantage of TANF. One reason for this is that Indiana has one of the lowest eligibility percentages in the county. The income of a family must be less than or equal to 17% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The FPL for a family of three is currently set at $20,000. At Indiana's current rate of 17%, that would give a Hoosier family of three around $3,400 a year to pay for rent, food and other necessities. Senate Bill 233 would adjust the income eligibility requirements for TANF from 17% to 35% in two years, and in three years, from 35% to 50%.

"Imagine the number of families in Indiana that are in need of assistance but can't apply for TANF because they make more than 17% of the Federal Poverty Level," Ford said. "TANF is a critical means of providing for Hoosier children and helping parents find their footing. Strong families enable a strong society, and TANF helps accomplish this."

In addition to modifying the percentage of the FPL, SB 233 would increase the monetary benefit amount by 60%.

"Indiana has not updated this program since 1988," Ford said. "Imagine the prices of groceries and gas back then compared to those now. SB 233 ensures TANF is up-to-date and best able to serve the needs of Hoosiers."

TANF is currently funded through the Federal Government by a $200 million block grant that goes toward programs to help Hoosier families in need. Each year, millions of this money goes unspent. SB 233 would utilize these unused funds.

SB 233 will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.