Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund provided about $65 million in stimulus funds to North Carolina.
In Richmond County, that money helped to send about 600 county children to daycare, about 100 single mothers get job skills and between 300 and 400 low-income families pay their bills each month.
The funding runs out on Sept. 30, and Congress is expected to consider extending the enhanced funding when it returns to session after Labor Day.
In addition to child care subsidies, cash assistance and WorkFirst programs, Richmond County DSS Director Tammy Schrenker explained the funds are also used for operating expenses at the county agency, funding public sector jobs. The non-profit North Carolina Justice Center released a report this week highlighting what the loss of these funds would mean for counties across the state.
“Ending this program will cost North Carolina jobs, remove much-needed income from local economies, adversely affect local businesses and make it impossible for many low-income parents to cover basic expenses,” a report by the N.C. Justice Center reads. “This is the opposite of what the nation needs at a time when the economic recovery remains precarious.
“Congress must act quickly to extend the TANF Emergency Fund for another full year to ensure that those already employed can stay in their positions and those still unemployed can participate.”
As stimulus programs from the federal government are beginning to expire, North Carolina is facing a projected budget shortfall of between $3 billion and $4 billion in next year’s budget.
Over the summer, North Carolina lawmakers lobbied for federal legislators to extend the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentages (FMAP) of the stimulus package, which would have paid an additional $500 million in state Medicaid expense, and Congress gave them more than half of what they were asking for to extend it.
The TANF Emergency Fund was also used to create subsidized jobs programs that placed more than 1,000 jobs across the state.
Schrenker said that while the stimulus package enhanced this funding in 2008, it has been up for reauthorization ever since Congress enacted welfare reform in 1994.
It was last reauthorized in 2006.
“We don’t have any information to indicate that it won’t be,” Schrenker said. “We’re confident that it will be, but it is a process that happens.”
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at email@example.com.