Louisiana’s state-funded cash aid programs, which are at the low end nationwide, will double next month after stagnating for more than two decades, state officials said.
“We hope this increase in benefit amounts will attract more people and encourage them to apply,” said Marketa Garner Walters, secretary for the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, in a statement.
With grocery stores closed and freezers thawing quickly, the state and food banks are scrambling to provide food to hurricane victims.
The two aid programs for monthly increases are part of a federal program from 1996 called Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF).
The money is intended to cover the family’s basic needs for food, shelter and clothing.
Louisiana has raised $ 1.6 billion for the program over the past 10 years, or about $ 163 million a year.
The aid was also the subject of a 56-page review issued Monday by legislative auditor Mike Waguespack, a report that comes from a law approved by the Legislature earlier this year.
Almost one in four people in the state lives in poverty, including 25% of grandparents who are responsible for caring for one or more of their grandchildren.
However, according to the audit, the state ranks 48th in the nation for the amount of monetary aid offered to families in need.
The state offers cash assistance to four out of 100 families living in poverty, compared with an average of 23 across the country.
One of the programs, the so-called Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program, provides cash for 1,484 households with children in need.
The current rate is $ 240 per month for a single family of three with no income, which will rise to $ 484.
The other that’s supposed to get a boost is called the Kinship Care Subsidy Program, which supports caregivers in 1,338 households that have legal guardianship for underage relatives.
That benefit will increase from $ 222 to $ 450 per eligible child next month.
Inflation has risen 61% since aid was last changed in 2000, officials said.
That is, what cost $ 1 more two decades ago is $ 1.61 today.
After a spate of calls from people wanting to apply for disaster-related food stamps, the federal government agreed to extend the application …
“This is especially important at a time when families are facing price increases due to inflation and unprecedented needs from the pandemic,” said Shavana Howard, assistant secretary of the State Department for Family Support.
“It was imperative that these benefit amounts be increased to meet their needs,” said Howard.
Eligible beneficiaries of the Temporary Family Independence Assistance Program should participate in education, on-the-job training, work readiness or working hours.
The audit found that Louisiana had the lowest labor force participation rate in the country in 2020 – 3.5%.
Waguespack’s report states that while Louisiana has a great deal of leeway in using TANF funds, it is different from most others.
Almost 30% of the annual federal allocation is used to finance preschool classes for four-year-olds who live in low-income families, known as LA4.
A further 25% of federal aid goes to child aid.
In addition to supporting families in need, TANF aims to end dependence on state benefits, prevent illegitimate pregnancies and promote the formation of two-parent families.
According to the testing and numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Louisiana ranked second in the nation for illegitimate pregnancies between 2014 and 2019.
The state also ranked 3rd in 2019
To apply for cash assistance, visit http://www.dcfs.la.gov/cash-assistance.
Contact The Advocate for more information.