The major provisions regarding the 1996 bill with respect to child welfare programs relate to Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Block Grant/Entitlement replaces AFDC, emergency assistance, and the JOBS (Job Opportunities and Basic Skills) program with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant Funding. The block grant provides essentially fixed federal funding. However, under the block grant, there is no assurance that children or their parents will receive cash assistance even if they are poor and meet all state eligibility requirements. States have broad discretion to maintain, broaden or substantially curtail eligibility for income assistance for any poor family or category of poor families. For example, states can deny aid to families with teen parents or two-parent families. In addition, if a state runs out of block grant funds for the fiscal year, they can place new applicants on a waiting list.
The current law institutes a five-year time limit on cash assistance and requires recipients to work after two years. In addition, unless states opt out, they must require parents receiving assistance to participate in community service after just two months. States may set shorter time limits and exempt 20 percent of their case load from the five-year limit.
CBO estimates that between 2.5 million and 3.5 million children could be affected by the law's five