TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Indiana Senator Jon Ford, of Terre Haute, looks to expand the eligibility guidelines of the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to serve more Hoosier families.
TANF can provide cash assistance and services like childcare assistance, job preparation, and work assistance. Currently, a family must earn less than or equal to 17% of the Federal Poverty Level to qualify, which is $20,000 for a family of three. Senator Ford says this would leave around $3,400 a year to pay for rent, food, and other necessities.
His bill (Senate Bill 233) would adjust the income eligibility requirements for TANF from 17% to 35% in two years, and in three years, from 35% to 50%.
"Imagine the number of families in Indiana that are in need of assistance but can't apply for TANF because they make more than 17% of the Federal Poverty Level," Ford said. "TANF is a critical means of providing for Hoosier children and helping parents find their footing. Strong families enable a strong society, and TANF helps accomplish this."
Senator Ford said the Wabash Valley has pockets of deep generational poverty, and he believes changing the guideline to offer assistance to more families could help communities across the state. “We talk a lot here at the Statehouse and in our region about workforce development and the quality of employees. What it really comes down to is, to attract business, is we have to have a quality workforce. And, families in poverty doesn’t equate to qualified workforces. We need to help people lift themselves up.”
Ford’s bill passed the Senate by a vote of 43 to 5. It has moved to the House for consideration.