Screening and Assessment in TANF\Welfare-to-Work: Ten Important Questions TANF Agencies and Their Partners Should Consider. Are services funded by state dollars considered "assistance?"


If a state wants to provide benefits or services that fall within the definition of "assistance," but does not want to subject the family to the consequences of the 60-month federal time limit and federal work requirements, the state may choose to fund benefits and services with state Maintenance of Effort (MOE) dollars. Spending of state funds is explicitly addressed in PRWORA through MOE requirements. In general, states are required to maintain a historic level of spending if they want to receive their maximum TANF block grant. The use of MOE funds separate from federal TANF block grant funds (through Separate State Programs) allows states to provide services, even those that fall within the definition of assistance, but without triggering other requirements. The flexibility offered by Separate State Programs allows states and localities to provide services such as substance abuse or mental health treatment, or educational programs to meet the needs of those with learning disabilities, without subjecting these recipients to federal time limits. While the flexibility exists to create Separate State Programs, states must choose between many competing interests regarding how to spend their state funds.

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