Health and Human Services Committee on SB 723

Testimony to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on SB 723

Good morning, members of the Committee, and thank you for this opportunity to provide testimony. My name is Alice Bufkin, and I am the Early Opportunities Policy Associate for Texans Care for Children, a nonprofit organization committed exclusively to improving the lives of Texas children through policy change. I am here today to speak in opposition to Senate Bill 723, which will ultimately penalize some of the most vulnerable children in our state.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is an important program providing temporary relief to very low-income dependent children and the parents or relatives who care for them. Only 5.4% of TANF Block Grant funding is allocated for TANF cash assistance. To receive financial assistance, families must have a child living in the home and have an income below 14% of the Federal Poverty Level, or $188 per month for a parent with two children. The maximum monthly benefit amount is 17% of the Federal Poverty Level, or $277 for a family of three. In June 2014, the average monthly benefit amount for each recipient was $73. This is a program that truly serves the most needy families in our state and provides essential support for vulnerable children.

Senate Bill 723 would cause substantial harm for some of the children struggling the most in our state. This bill requires nonrecipient parents – those who do not receive any TANF benefits but are parents to a child who does – to comply with the same employment and employment training requirements as adults who receive TANF benefits directly. This includes the TANF requirement that adults work at least 30 hours per week or participate in at least 20 hours a week work or training activities. These parents would also be required to sign and follow a personal responsibility agreement.

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