PURPOSE OF TANF: To provide assistance to needy families, assuring that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives andending the dependence of needy parents on government by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage stability.

Background: Supplantation is the use of Federal TANF dollars for a TANF purpose, but to replace (or supplant) former state expenditures for the same purpose or activity.

Many Washington Post articles have reported of Virginia using Federal TANF funds to replace state spending--and the record confirms that the state has incorporated this supplantation approach into budget proposals. In effect, Virginia has been using the TANF block grants to supplant state fundsand balancestate budgets rather than comply withthe TANF purpose ofproviding services to the poor.

This practice of supplantation corrupts the purpose of TANF. It is incongruous that the Governor’s budget includes $5 million in each fiscal year in the Department of Social Services use of TANF to replace General Fund funded programs. The Administration in Washington, DC has also communicated forcefully with the states opposingthe practice of supplantation.

To maintain the integrity of TANF, a new modus operandi is imperative. Virginia’s routinemisuse of Federal TANF funds to replace previous state expenditures for low-income families requires a correction. This practice was never intended,and it impedes the goals of welfare reform. 

Goal: To maximize the resources available to serve low-income children and families and ensure that Federal TANF funds are used to supplement, not supplant, existing state and local spending.

Recommendation: SALT supports aNon-Supplantation Provision consisting of a legislative prohibition against using Federal funds to replace existing (as established by a baseline year, i.e., FY 2015) state or local expenditures for similar programs, purposes or activities.  A "new spending" test for maintenance of effort funds and the non-supplantation provision in the former AFDC & JOBS programs are models of this approach. 


  • Provides a clear and straightforward statement of intent.
  • Enhances State human service agency ability to address needs.
  • Prevents corruption of the purpose of TANF.

JOBS Model The former JOBS Opportunities and Basic Skills Training Program contained a general non-supplantation prohibition in Sec. 482(a)(3) of the Social Security Act, which could be modified for TANF. Making a similar prohibition applicable to TANF is recommended:  

Federal funds made available to a state for purposes of the TANF program shall not be used to supplant non-Federal funds for existing services and activities that promote a purpose of this part.  State or local funds expended for such a purpose shall be maintained at least at the level of such expenditures for the fiscal year FY2015.

Virginia Back to School Supplies and Clothing Allowance Proposal (VBSSCA)

SALT proposes a Virginia Back to School Supplies and Clothing Allowance (VBSSCA) for TANF beneficiaries. This proposal is modeled after Operation Backpack programs (backpacks filled with new school supplies for the upcoming school year) that have been sponsored by various civic and faith communities for the benefit of impoverished school children. West Virginia has had a state-sponsored program in effect for 35 years.

We propose that this be made an annual event to assist school children in need, grades Pre-K through High School. The allowance would allow children living in poverty to acquire the needed school supplies and clothing essential for returning to school.  By helping Virginia’s needy children prepare for school, we can provide at least some of the resources required to help them return to school with confidence and to be equipped for learning. We believe every child deserves access to educational opportunities, as well as basic needs.

In view of the steep decline in TANF caseload consistently each month over the past year and a half, SALT is proposing to use savings from the TANF caseload decline to fund this Virgina Back to School Supplies & Clothing Allowance. As you know, the TANF program is level funded—the same level even when the caseload declines. We propose that the family of each eligible child receive $100 (annual one-time benefit voucher payment) for each child.

In West Virginia, we understand that this program is very popular with the legislators and merchants, and enjoys widespread community support.  Support is so strong that the amount has been increased several times over the years and it is currently being increased to an annual $200.00 per school age child. Due to the strong support and popularity of the Back to School Supplies and Clothing Allowance, it is being expanded to Head Start families and Foster Care families as well. It’s an annual one-time benefit voucher payment.

A Simple Backpack Can Help Change Lives

Help Give School Supplies and Hope to Children Like Carly (*Not real name)

When Carly* goes back to school next month, she'll
need all the hope she can get. That's because Carly is
in desperate need.

Carly's family can't afford the school supplies she
needs to be successful. But a backpack filled with
books, school supplies, and other essentials can help a
child like Carly start the new school year with confidence
— and hope. Support from vouchers issued through the
federally funded TANF Block Grant, can provide these
backpacks of hope.





Source: U.S. Census - Community Population Survey and Virginia Department of Social Services
3-year averages. Even as the number of children in poverty has risen in Virginia over the past 10 years to early-90s levels, the number of Virginia children whose families are receiving cash assistance through TANF remains very low. In fact, we can see that there are currently over 100,000 Virginia children living in “deep poverty”—that is, children whose families that have income that is less than half the federal poverty line--while only 50,000 Virginia children live in families receiving TANF/ TANF UP aid, the main form of cash assistance to poor families in the United States. This means that many children are living in impoverished families that are receiving no cash assistance from the state.


ESTIMATED TANF SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN (K-12)--                   29,500
ESTIMATED COST @ $100 PER School Age CHILD--                   $2.95 MILLION
ESTIMATED FAMILIES/SCHOOL AGE (K-12)--                             21,500


What is “Ban the Box”? This ban prohibits automatically disqualifying job applicants with a prior conviction. Job applicants with criminal histories will no longer have to check a box disclosing that they have been convicted of, or pled guilty to, a crime. After the employer has evaluated the applicant on his or her abilities and experiences and asked the applicant to come in for an interview, the employer can ask about any convictions.

A recent National Employment Law Project (NELP) report stated that an estimated 65 million Americans—or one in four adults—have a criminal record that may show up on a routine background check report. The goal of “Ban the Box” legislation is to provide job applicants an opportunity to be evaluated on their qualifications rather than being automatically excluded from consideration for employment solely because of such a criminal record. Nationwide, over 40 cities and counties have taken steps to removing unfair barriers to employment based on prior convictions.

States with cities and counties that have enacted “Ban the Box” include California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia-(12 jurisdictions), and Washington, DC.

New York (since 1977), Pennsylvania (since 1979), and Wisconsin (since 1981) have in place anti-discrimination legislation relating to prior convictions. Hawaii has had “Ban the Box” and anti-discrimination legislation in place since 1998.

In 2009-2010, the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Mexico passed “Ban the Box” legislation. Since then, Colorado and Rhode Island passed “Ban the Box” legislation; and Illinois and California prohibit automatically disqualifying applicants with a prior conviction and have removed “the box” from their applications for state employment that inquire about prior convictions.

Rhode Island prohibits both private as well as public employers from asking about criminal history on a job application. Similar public/private bans are in place in Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Minnesota.

Illinois Governor Quinn made a compelling case for “Ban the Box” with this comment: "Formerly incarcerated individuals shouldn’t face a life sentence of no job prospects and no opportunities to better themselves just because they have served time in prison. These new (“Ban the Box”) laws will help them get back on their feet, contribute to their communities and keep one offense from becoming a life-long barrier.”