Missouri has the distinction of enacting in 1911 the first "Mother’s Aid Law" in the history of the United States. This was a forerunner of the former aid to families with dependent children (AFDC) program which provided assistance to children who had been deprived of support due to the absence or incapacity of one or both parents or the unemployment of the principal wage earner. The AFDC program was an effort to keep families together and to help ensure a normal family life for the children. The maximum amount of the grant for each family was the highest percent of that family’s need as shall be possible within the limits of the funds appropriated for this program.
The Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) was passed by the House of Representatives on July 31, 1996 and by the Senate on August 1, 1996. On August 22, 1996 President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law. (PL 104-193)
The bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation with far-reaching implications for a number of public assistance programs. The bill eliminates the open-ended federal entitlement program of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the program that provided cash assistance and MO HealthNet (MHF) for needy families and their children. Instead, the federal legislation creates a block grant for states to provide time-limited cash assistance to those same needy families. Further, the legislation severs the automatic link between AFDC eligibility and receipt of MO HealthNet benefits. Families may continue to be eligible for MO HealthNet (see MO HealthNet For Families (MHF)) but eligibility is no longer guaranteed for those families receiving cash assistance.
The legislation created the block grant cash assistance program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). In Missouri the program is referred to as "Temporary Assistance".
The purpose of the Temporary Assistance Program is to provide assistance to needy families with children so they can be cared for in their own home and to reduce dependency by promoting job preparation, work and marriage. Funds may also be used to prevent non-marital pregnancies and encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.
Major provisions include:
- Able bodied adult cash assistance recipients must work or be in work activities (job training, subsidized employment, job search and job readiness assistance, etc.) after two years of receiving assistance. This provision is subject to good cause exemptions on a limited basis.
- Receipt of cash assistance under Temporary Assistance is restricted to a lifetime limit of five years.
- States are required to meet certain levels of recipient work participation or face losing a portion of their TANF block grant: Twenty-five percent of a state’s eligible welfare population (families that include an adult or minor child head of household receiving cash assistance) must be participating in approved work activities (outlined in the bill) in FY 1997. This level of participation rises by 5 percent each year until FY 2002, when it becomes 50 percent thereafter. The work participation rate for two-parent families is required to be at 75 percent in FY 1997 -1998 and 90 percent in 1999 and beyond.
- Individuals receiving cash assistance (unless exempt) must work a minimum number of hours per week (averaged over a month) to be counted toward meeting the work participation rate. Those minimum hours are:
All Families: FY 1997-1998 20 hours FY 1999 25 hours FY 2000 and beyond 30 hours Two-Parent Families: FY 1997 and beyond 35 hours (first parent)
20 hours (second parent)
Temporary Assistance offers two types of services to families. The services available are cash assistance and case management.
Who Is Eligible?
The child who:
- is under the age of 18 years or 19 and attending high school or equivalent and expected to graduate;
- is in need of assistance because there is insufficient income to meet basic needs;
- is deprived of support because of the death, physical or mental incapacity or the continued absence from the home or unemployment;
- is living with one or both parents or a close relative who makes application for assistance.
and whose parent(s) with whom he or she is living:
- has not been convicted after August 22, 1996 in a Federal or State court of a felony or any crime related to illegal possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance;
- does not own resources valued at more than $1,000 at application, excluding the home and one car. Recipients may own resources valued to $5000 once a self-sufficiency pact is signed;
- assigns his or her rights for child support to FSD and further cooperates in identifying, locating and collecting child support from any parent who is absent from the home because of divorce, desertion, or abandonment;
- uses the money for the benefit of the children;
- attempts to support or help support the children by accepting employment when offered;
- applies for social security numbers for all members of the assistance group;
- is not a fleeing felon and is not in violation of a condition of probation or parole imposed under a Federal of State Law.
For information regarding medical coverage, see Medical Services - MO HealthNet.