Earlier this year, state anti-poverty advocates successfully passed a bill that repealed some of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)’s harshest policies, meaning more families will be able to access TANF’s critical support during times of hardship. 

TANF offers vital support to families through cash assistance, child care, supportive services, and education and job training. But deep program cuts during the Great Recession created policies that were unnecessarily harsh, making it harder to families to receive the assistance they needed.  In fact, prior to the recession TANF was serving 50 out of every 100 families with children in poverty. Due to the policy changes and subsequent disinvestment, only about 25 out of every 100 families in poverty are being served today. During the past decade, many families found their access to TANF was prematurely cut short due to stringent sanction and time limit policies that harshly emphasized compliance over family support and stability. 

The passage of Second Substitute House Bill 1603 ushered in important first steps in making straightforward, necessary fixes that strengthened TANF. This legislation eliminated the practice of permanent disqualifications (a harsh three-strikes sanction policy). It also introduced a new time-limit extension for families experiencing homelessness. Both of these policy changes will go into effect on July 28, 2019. 

Families who were permanently disqualified from TANF for noncompliance sanctions and families who were time-limited off the program and are currently homeless are eligible to re-apply for and receive TANF.  In order to re-apply, families must submit an application in person, by mail, or online. Please visit washingtonconnection.org for an online application, or visit bit.ly/dshs-offices for a list of DSHS office locations throughout Washington state. 

If you have tried re-appyling and are having difficulty accessing your TANF benefits, there are legal experts here to help! For King County residents, call Solid Ground‘s Benefits Legal Assistance at 206-694-6742. For residents of other counties throughout Washington state, call the CLEAR Legal Hotline at 1-888-201-1014.