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.