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Changes to MO TANF Cash Assistance Result in 60% Decline in Children & Families Assisted

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Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides a modest cash benefit to Missouri families with children who earn less than $18,780 per year for a family of three. Unlike other safety net services, cash assistance allows families to pay for basic necessities, such as toothpaste, diapers, and gas. The flexibility of cash helps families afford unexpected or irregular expenses like their children’s school supplies or medication. Currently, cash assistance helps support fewer than 10,000 Missouri families per month with an average monthly benefit of just $223 per family.

The number of families receiving cash assistance in Missouri has declined by 60% since 2015. While a portion of the decline in enrollment results from improvement in the economy, a sudden drop occurred immediately after the implementation of Senate Bill 24 (SB 24). The decline in enrollment during the period between December 2015-July 2016 (or the first 6 months following implementation of SB24) accounts for approximately 70% of the total statewide decline in enrollment since December 2015.

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