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Louisiana to Increase TANF Cash Assistance Benefits Beginning January 2022

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Assistance aimed at promoting career development and financial independence

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana is increasing the cash benefit amounts available through the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for the first time in more than two decades.

The increases will effectively double cash assistance through the federal Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP) and Kinship Care Subsidy Program (KCSP) beginning in January 2022, boosting benefits for some of Louisiana’s most vulnerable families to the national average. In November, 1,484 households received FITAP cash assistance and 1,338 households received Kinship Care subsidies. In state fiscal year 2021, the average household benefit amount for FITAP was $207.55 and $420.50 for KCSP.

“We know there are many more families who could benefit from the programs, not only for the much-needed cash assistance but also for the valuable workforce development and educational opportunities these programs offer. We hope this increase in benefit amounts will attract more people and encourage them to apply,” said Secretary Marketa Garner Walters of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, which administers the programs.

Federal TANF cash benefits are intended to be used to meet families’ basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing. By tying benefits to career development, FITAP aims to decrease the long-term dependence on welfare assistance by promoting job preparation and work, while KCSP lifts the financial burden of qualified relatives caring for a child whose parents are not in the home.

According to federal Census data, 19% of Louisiana’s population is living in poverty, including 25% of grandparents who are responsible for the care of one or more of their grandchildren (Census Bureau, 2019). The 2021 Kids Count Databook ranked Louisiana 48th for overall child well-being.  

 “This is especially important at a time when families are facing price increases due to inflation and unprecedented need caused by the pandemic. It was imperative that these benefit amounts be increased to meet their needs,” said Shavana Howard, assistant secretary of DCFS’ Division of Family Support.

Inflation has increased 61% since these benefit amounts were last increased in July 2000, meaning what could be purchased for $1 in 2000 now costs about $1.61 today according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Louisiana’s average TANF cash benefit (through FITAP) for a three-person household was $240, compared to the national average of $484. The new maximum FITAP benefit will match the national average of $484, as the chart reveals below. For Kinship Care subsidies (KCSP), the monthly benefit will increase from $222 to $450 per eligible child.

FITAP Benefit Amount Changes

Household Members

Current Benefit Amount

January 2022 Benefit Amount

1

$122

$244

2

$188

$376

3

$240

$484

4

$284

$568

5

$327

$654

6

$366

$732

7

$402

$804

8

$441

$882

9

$477

$954

Implementing an increase in FITAP and KCSP benefits required an 18-month, multi-step process, including rulemaking and systems changes. DCFS also conducted a full-scale TANF review and contracted with the Louisiana Budget Project and the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center to study reforms to the program.

According to studies by the Louisiana Budget Project and the Blanco Public Policy Center, supplementing the incomes of parents through FITAP benefits aimed at supporting those families in the workforce has a significant impact on the lives of recipients and their families.

“Reducing the financial burden on our most vulnerable families leads to improved performance in both work and school, as well as a better quality of life in terms of mental and physical health,” Howard said.

All work-eligible FITAP participants are required to participate in the Strategies to Empower People (STEP) program, which is administered by DCFS as part of a career pathway model. Under STEP, participants must complete work activity hours, which could include education, on-the-job training, job readiness or work hours. The program provides support services for employment-related activities such as transportation and child care to assist participants on their pathway to becoming self-sufficient.

The Kinship Care Subsidy Program (KCSP) provides relatives caregivers critical financial support they need to care for children on a long-term basis. A foster caregiver who receives a foster care board rate is not eligible for KCSP.

How to Apply for TANF Cash Assistance

To apply for TANF cash assistance or Kinship Care benefits or for more information about FITAP and KCSP, visit http://www.dcfs.la.gov/cash-assistance. The public can also apply by visiting a DCFS office.