Some advocates are pushing Indiana’s legislature to increase eligibility and grant amounts, for lower-income families seeking temporary cash assistance. The issue is slated to be discussed in the 2021 legislative session.
A program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, lets states decide how to spend federal dollars to help some of its poorest families.
Under current Indiana standards, a family of three would have to make almost 90 percent less than current federal poverty guidelines to be eligible. Even then, they’d receive just $288 in assistance each month.
Jessica Fraser, Indiana Institute for Working Families director, said both the threshold for eligibility and the benefit amount are far lower than they should be.
“The last time benefit or eligibility levels have been increased in Indiana was in 1988,” Fraser said. “So because that’s a set dollar amount and there’s no inflation adjuster, that value has eroded year over year.”
The national think tank Center for Budget and Policy Priorities ranked Indiana as having the ninth lowest TANF assistance amount in the country.