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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 97-89



Publication and Availability of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families State Plan

[27 Pa.B. 342]

   The Department of Public Welfare is publishing, in its entirety, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) State Plan. The State Plan has been developed in accordance with the requirements of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P. L. 104-193) which ended the Federal Aid to Families with Dependent Children entitlement program. In its place, the Act provides each state with a TANF Block Grant and the opportunity, within broad Federal guidelines, to design and operate its own programs. The State Plan was submitted to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on January 17, 1997 to begin the official 45-day comment period required by law. The Department will implement its TANF Program on the day following the end of the 45-day comment period, March 3, 1997.

   Future amendments to the Plan will incorporate suggestions and recommendations received during the comment period.

   Copies of the State Plan are available for all interested individuals and groups upon written request to Patricia H. O'Neal, Attention: TANF State Plan, Director, Bureau of Policy, Office of Income Maintenance, Room 431 Health and Welfare Building, P. O. Box 2675, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2675. You may also request copies via facsimile machine at (717) 787-6765, using the above address on your cover document.

   Persons with a disability may use the AT&T Relay Service by calling 1 (800) 654-5984 (TDD users) or 1 (800) 654-5988 (Voice users), or may use a Department of Public Welfare TDD by calling 1 (717) 787-3616. Persons who require another alternative should contact Thomas Vracarich at (717) 783-2209.




   A.  Advance Public Availability and Review
   B.  Additional Outreach
   C.  Public Comments
   A.  General Provisions
      1.  Program Administration
      2.  Access to Benefits
      3.  Defining Needy Families
      4.  Personal Responsibility--The Agreement of Mutual Responsibility
      5.  Time Limits on Receipt of TANF
      6.  Determining Eligibility
      7.  Child Support Requirements
      8.  Work and Self-sufficiency
      9.  Noncompliance with the RESET Program
      10.  Supporting Employment with Day Care
      11.  Safeguarding Information
      12.  Transfers of TANF Block Grant Funds
      13.  Reductions of Out-of-Wedlock Births
      14.  Education and Training to Reduce Statutory Rape
      15.  Identifying Domestic Violence
   B.  Special Provisions
      1.  Families Entering Pennsylvania from Another State
      2.  Treatment of Noncitizens
      3.  Delivery of Benefits
      4.  Right to Appeal
      5.  Community Service Option


   This document outlines the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's plan for providing assistance to families with children from funds provided under Title I of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P. L. 104-193). The Act amends Section 402 of the Social Security Act to require that states submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that outlines how the state will provide Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. Implementation is effective March 3, 1997.


   On May 16, 1996, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge signed into law Act 1996-35--a dramatic welfare reform plan designed to move families off the welfare rolls and into the work force. The provisions of the Act encourage personal and parental responsibility, emphasize self-sufficiency through employment, strengthen child support requirements, and increase penalties for welfare fraud. It is a common-sense approach that provides Pennsylvania with the core components for reform of our welfare system. The TANF provisions of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 provide the opportunity to make that reform a reality.

   When signed into law on August 22, 1996, the Act ended the 60-year federal welfare entitlement program known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and the federal JOBS employment and training program. In its place, each state is provided with a block grant for designing and operating its own welfare program within broad TANF requirements. These requirements include stringent work activity participation rates and a lifetime limit of five years for the receipt of benefits. The TANF Block Grant provides Pennsylvania with the opportunity to build on the core components of Act 35 to create a welfare system that makes the best use of welfare dollars.

   Pennsylvania's TANF Program is designed to provide short-term assistance to families when the support of one or both parents is interrupted. It also provides supplemental support when family income from employment and other sources is not sufficient to meet basic needs. It is not intended to provide long-term support or become a way of life. The TANF Program is based on the following basic principles:

   [  ]  Welfare should support the efforts of families to become self-sufficient.

   [  ]  Parents, whether they live with their child or not, have a fundamental responsibility to create a supportive, nurturing environment for that child.

   [  ]  Employment is the best way for families to become self-sufficient and end their dependence on welfare payments.


   The primary goal of Pennsylvania's TANF Program is to provide support to families as they make the transition from dependence on welfare to self-sufficiency and, finally, to long-term self-support. The following goals provide the framework on which the Program is designed:

1.  Promote Personal Responsibility

   Pennsylvania's TANF Program is designed around the principle that welfare should provide temporary assistance to families and individuals, providing basic support that enables them to move to self-sufficiency. Inherent in this belief is the notion that the welfare recipient must be personally responsible for taking the necessary steps to end his or her dependence on a welfare check.

2.  Move Recipients into Jobs

   For most recipients, the way to self-sufficiency and economic independence is through a job. Stressing private-sector employment, Pennsylvania's TANF approach provides the client with the opportunity to build work skills and a work history.

3.  Provide Work Incentives and Supports

   If we are to encourage employment, families must be better off if they work than if they depend on welfare. By allowing families to keep more of their earnings, TANF rewards work and helps them establish a financial base that will support self-sufficiency. The Program also supports family efforts to work with allowances for work-related expenses, such as child care and transportation.

4.  Break the Cycle of Dependency Through Education

   Attainment of a high school diploma is critical to both short-term and long-term prospects for independence through employment. It opens the door to meaningful, productive employment. Training in a skill or trade, on-the-job training in the private sector, job search and preparation classes and workshops, among other activities, will provide a menu of opportunity for long-term self-sufficiency.

5.  Strengthen Families and Support Children

   Recognizing the importance both parents play in achieving self-sufficiency, the TANF Program requires parents to fulfill their fundamental responsibilities to their children through a strengthened child support system.

6.  Simplify Program Administration

   Pennsylvania must be able to use resources productively--to assist the client in developing and successfully implementing his or her own plan for self-sufficiency. As administrators of the public welfare system, we must have two goals: to help recipients of public assistance become self-sufficient and to ensure that tax dollars spent on welfare programs are spent wisely.


   Monitoring implementation progress and evaluating attainment of program goals is an integral component of Pennsylvania's TANF plan. The primary focus of the monitoring and evaluation activities is to gather data about a comprehensive set of performance indicators and performance measures which are used to document clear, specific program outcomes and results directly related to the established TANF goals.

   The detailing of a definitive set of performance indicators and measures will evolve as final program planning decisions are made and modified, but the ongoing program evaluation information system will include such performance indicators and measures as:

   *  The proportion of the active TANF caseload working

   *  The proportion of TANF applicants diverted from ongoing caseload status to employment

   *  The average length of stay in active TANF status

   *  The average number of stays of active TANF status

   *  The relationships among provision of work incentives and family support allowances and successful, long-term employment

   *  The relationships among program components which focus on clients assuming personal responsibility, implemented primarily through the use of an Agreement of Mutual Responsibility, and successful long-term employment

   *  The relationships among a variety of program components designed to provide education and training and successful, long-term employment

   *  The relationships of program components designed to strengthen and support families and appropriate indicators of success

   *  The relationship between program simplification changes and timely and accurate benefits

   *  The relationship between TANF program changes and indicators of fraud, waste and abuse

   *  The use (or continued use after cash benefits end) of other subsidized or social service support programs

   A primary focus of the program evaluation efforts associated with implementing the TANF Program is to develop, maintain and refine, where necessary, an integrated and comprehensive evaluation information system which will provide the sort of data and information necessary to document the many facets of the outcome and performance measures related to key components of TANF. These data will be used to provide ongoing monitoring assessments of incremental phases of program implementation and to provide summary statements describing attainment of program goals. In order to ensure the appropriate degree of program accountability, the measures used will be defined by data and information which is timely, accurate, valid, reliable, credible, and easily communicated.

   This information system will be composed of existing, currently-available data for pre-TANF welfare programs, but will be supplemented by those data and information necessary to track the provisions of the TANF legislation and satisfy the mandated reporting requirements. This collection of data about TANF participants, combined with data detailing critical program components, will provide the documentation of specific outcome and performance measures established for the TANF goals. Additionally, analyses of the data available in this information system will provide important information about the configurations of participant and program characteristics which produce the most favorable long-term outcomes. Comparisons of these sorts of relationships between participant and program characteristics and their effects on outcome measures across time will permit systematic, evolutionary, incremental shaping of TANF programs to effectively meet the TANF goals.


A.  Advance Public Availability and Review

   The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's TANF State Plan was made available for public review on January 17, 1997.

   The Plan was also submitted to key stakeholder groups for review and comment. These groups include members of the legislature and the Governor's Cabinet, as well as associations representing county government, client advocacy groups, business interests and community agencies providing a variety of services to recipients of public assistance.

   Concurrently, copies of the TANF State Plan were made available at the 104 County Assistance Offices around the State.

B.  Additional Outreach

   The TANF State Plan will be published in its entirety in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on January 18, 1997. The Pennsylvania Bulletin is the official gazette of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is the temporary supplement to the Pennsylvania Code, the official codification of agency rules and regulations. The Bulletin also serves as the vehicle whereby agencies publish proposed programmatic and regulatory changes. The Notice published in the Bulletin will indicate that comments on the TANF State Plan are to be directed to the Department of Public Welfare, Office of Income Maintenance.

   The Income Maintenance Advisory Committee (IMAC) is scheduled to receive an extensive briefing on the proposed TANF State Plan in January 1997. IMAC is composed of current and former welfare recipients, representatives of welfare rights organizations, employment and training specialists and others concerned with the welfare system. IMAC advises the Department of Public Welfare on policies, procedures, and other activities related to the programs administered by the Office of Income Maintenance.

   During the 45-day public review time frame, the Department of Public Welfare will be holding public forums at locations and times still being determined. During this time period, the Department also will be presenting the proposed TANF State Plan, fielding questions, and receiving input during a variety of forums, including but not limited to the following:

   *  The State conference of the Pennsylvania Association of County Human Service Administrators.

   *  The State conference of the Pennsylvania Association of Children and Youth Administrators.

   *  The State conference of the Pennsylvania Association of Housing and Redevelopment Authorities.

   In addition, the Department will continue to participate in the collaborative ''Building our Communities'' meetings begun in May 1996. This series of meetings--10 of which occurred prior to the public review time frame--are a joint effort of the Department of Public Welfare, United Way of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Association of County Human Service Administrators, and the Commonwealth Community Foundations. The intent of the locally-planned meetings is to facilitate community collaborations and to begin a discussion of the implications of Federal and State welfare reform. It is anticipated that, during the 45-day comment period, additional community meetings will occur in the Erie, Northwestern, and Southwestern areas of the State.

C.  Public Comments

   The Department's ongoing review of the TANF program will include review and consideration of public comments along with the tracking of initial outcomes of the TANF Program. The Department intends to submit any needed amendment to the State Plan approximately six (6) months from the date of the implementation of the TANF Program.


   Although the TANF Program replaces the former federal cash benefits program known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), most of the rules and procedures under which the Department administered AFDC, including the ''New Directions'' JOBS Program, remain in effect as part of the new TANF Program. These rules and procedures are contained in Chapter 55 of the Pennsylvania Code (55 Pa. Code), Notices of Rule Change to the Code published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, Office of Income Maintenance (OIM) Bulletins, OIM Operations Memoranda, and Departmental Handbooks.

   New or revised rules and procedures which apply to the TANF Program are set forth in the State Plan. These changes and revisions are adopted pursuant to the authority of the Personal Responsibility Act of 1996, Pennsylvania's Act 1996-35, and sections 201(2) and 403(b) of Title 62 of the Public Welfare Code (62 P. S. §§  201(a) and 403(b)). Most of these new or revised rules and procedures will be effective upon implementation of the TANF State Plan. Others will become effective upon publication as final rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.


1.  Program Administration

   The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Office of Income Maintenance, is responsible for administering the TANF Program in 67 counties through 104 local offices. Program requirements are applied consistently Statewide; however, the maximum TANF benefit will vary from county to county based on the four benefit schedules currently in effect.

   The Department intends to continue the use of private contractors to supplement the work of the County Assistance Offices to provide services, such as job search preparation, education and training, and to assist clients to enter the work force.

   Persons who apply for TANF benefits on or after March 3, 1997 are subject to all requirements of the TANF Program. Recipients are subject to the 60-month lifetime limit and 24-month work participation time limit beginning March 3, 1997. Other changes and requirements, such as the Agreement of Mutual Responsibility and job search, will be applied at next contact, but no later than the month following the next scheduled redetermination of eligibility. Prior to implementation, the Department of Public Welfare will mail each family receiving AFDC benefits a written notice of program changes.

2.  Access to Benefits

   Pennsylvania continues to provide access to TANF benefits and related services in each of the Commonwealth's 67 counties based on the policies and procedures in effect prior to TANF implementation.

3.  Defining Needy Families

   A family is defined as a minor child and his parent(s) or other adult specified relative with whom he lives. Eligibility for TANF is also extended to pregnant women who have no other children living with them.

   [  ]  Minor Child

   A minor child is under age 18 or is age 18 and is a full-time student in a secondary or in the equivalent level of vocational or technical training.

   [  ]  Specified Relative

   A specified relative is defined as an adult who:

   *  Is exercising responsibility for the care and control of the child by making and carrying out plans for the support, education and maintenance of the child and applying for assistance on behalf of the child. The finding that a relative is exercising care and control of the child is made whether the relative is the parent or other relative of the child.

   *  Is maintaining a home where the child lives with him, or is in the process of setting up a home where the child will go to live with him within 30 days after he receives the first TANF payment.

   *  Is related to the child as follows:

   --A blood relative who is within the fifth degree of kinship to the dependent child, including a first cousin once removed. Second cousins and more remote cousins are not within the fifth degree of kinship. A first cousin once removed is the child of one's first cousin or the first cousin of one's parent. The fifth degree of kinship includes great-great grandparents and great-great-great grandparents. The fifth degree of kinship also includes other relationships prefixed by great, great-great, grand or great-grand. Blood relatives include those of half-blood.

   --A parent by legal adoption and any of the adopting parent's blood or adoptive relatives as described above.

   --Stepfather, stepmother, stepbrother and stepsister.

   --A spouse of any of the relatives described above even though the marriage is terminated by death, separation or divorce.

   [  ]  Minor Parent

   An individual who is under 18 years of age, is not married, and has a minor child in his or her care, or is pregnant, must reside in a place of residence maintained by a parent, legal guardian, other adult relative or other appropriate adult-supervised supportive arrangement unless one of several exemptions is met.

   If the minor parent cannot return to the home of a parent, legal guardian, or other relative, the Department, in consultation with county children and youth agencies, will provide assistance to the minor parent and dependent child in locating a second-chance home, maternity home, or other appropriate adult-supervised supportive arrangement unless the agency determined that the minor parent's living situation is appropriate.

   When both parents are living with a child, the family may qualify for TANF only if one or both parents is incapacitated or unemployed according to the deprivation requirements in effect prior to TANF implementation.

   Certain persons who live with the minor child must be included in the application for assistance. These members of the mandatory TANF budget group include the TANF child, the biological or adoptive parents of the TANF child and blood-related siblings of the TANF child as long as they also qualify as a TANF child.

   A family, for purposes of the 60-month time limit, is defined as a minor child and his parent(s) or other adult specified relative with whom he lives and who is applying on the child's behalf. A specified relative who is not required to be part of the TANF budget group is considered a member of the family regardless of whether he is included in the child's application for TANF benefits or is applying only on behalf of the minor child.

   [  ]  Absence of a Minor Child

   Under TANF, a specified relative may continue to receive benefits for an otherwise eligible minor child who is absent, or expected to be absent, from the home. The State may choose between several periods of temporary absence: not less than 30 days, up to 45 days, up to 180 days, or more than 180 days if good cause is established.

   Pennsylvania elects to define temporary absence as one that does not exceed 180 consecutive days.

   A caretaker relative of a minor child who fails to notify the County Assistance Office of the minor child's absence by the end of the five-day period that begins with the date it becomes clear that the child will be absent for more than 180 consecutive days is ineligible for TANF for a period of 30 days.

4.  Personal Responsibility--The Agreement of Mutual Responsibility

   Pennsylvania is exercising the TANF option to establish an individual responsibility plan. The following persons are required to enter into a written agreement, known as the Agreement of Mutual Responsibility, that establishes the obligations to be undertaken by the recipient to achieve self-sufficiency and the activities of the Commonwealth to support those efforts:

   *  Adult applicants and recipients who are required to sign the Application for Benefits.

   *  Pregnant teens or minor parents who sign the Application for Benefits on their own behalf.

   *  Persons under age 18 who have not earned a high school diploma or equivalent and who are not attending school as defined by the school district.

   The Agreement stresses the temporary nature of cash assistance and focuses on the steps the recipient must take to gain self-sufficiency. The Agreement also specifies the penalties for failure to comply and the actions to be taken by the Department to support the efforts of the recipient. Beginning March 3, 1997, refusal to sign the Agreement will result in ineligibility of the person required to enter into the Agreement.

   As part of completion of the Agreement, the County Assistance Office determines if the client is exempt from participation in work activities. For all nonexempt clients, the Agreement includes a requirement to begin a job search for a minimum of eight weeks. The job search will serve as the initial assessment of the skills, work experience and employability of each adult recipient. In addition to the initial job search, the Agreement is also used to outline other work participation activities and obligations for nonexempt clients. Penalties for noncompliance, without good cause, with work-related requirements set forth on the Agreement will be applied beginning March 3, 1997.

   Pursuant to Act 35, the Agreement will include the following obligations, when appropriate to the individual or family situation. The Department of Public Welfare will establish penalties and good cause criteria for noncompliance before implementing sanctions associated with these obligations. These penalties will not be implemented on March 3, 1997; they will be implemented upon final rulemaking as published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

   *  Receive prenatal care as recommended by the doctor or clinic and/or ensure that children are immunized, receive periodic health screening and appropriate medical treatment.

   *  Take steps, if needed, which will improve a child's school attendance and improve his or her chances for earning a high school diploma.

   *  Submit to a substance-abuse assessment by the local county authority if the county assistance office determines that a person may have a substance-abuse problem that presents a barrier to employment. If the assessment indicates that a drug or alcohol problem exists, the client will be required to participate in and complete an approved treatment program. If a person fails to enter or complete a program, he or she can comply by providing proof of substance-free status by submitting to periodic drug testing.

   *  Make appropriate payments to service providers from allowances given for day care and other special needs provided to enable the client to fulfill his or her commitment to engage in work or a work-related activity.

   *  Meet other obligations specified in the Agreement of Mutual Responsibility related to self-sufficiency and parenting responsibilities.

   These obligations are basic personal and parental responsibilities which are important to the physical and mental well-being of the family. If not addressed, they not only represent potential barriers to employment, but could increase the likelihood that welfare dependency will be passed from one generation to the next.

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