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Illinois lawmakers could boost TANF benefits this year

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families(WLBT)
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 3:21 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Low-income families in Illinois who receive TANF benefits could get an extra boost thanks to a proposal in Springfield.

Rep. Marcus Evans (D-Chicago) said the Illinois Department of Human Services should increase grant amounts for temporary assistance for needy families. The state currently provides 30% of the federal poverty guidelines for each family size. Evans would like to see that raised to 50%.

His bill could help a family of three currently receiving $549 per month from TANF get $915 in benefits. Evans said his plan also allows dollars for child support to go directly to parents or guardians instead of the current system where some of the money is dispersed by the state.

Maxica Williams is a mother of three in Cook County who helped make this change a possibility. As a member of the TANF Research Advisory Board, Williams worked to eliminate barriers to the benefits for those most in need. With TANF payments so low, Williams said surviving and meeting basic needs is challenging.

Williams told the House Appropriations - Human Services Committee that families shouldn’t have to decide if they should pay bills or get essential items from the store.

“The cost of living keeps going up for us, increasing every year and every day with inflation and all that is going on in the society with the pandemic and COVID,” Williams said.

She said committee members should understand that the current TANF benefits can’t help people get by.

“When DHS keeps that child support and they don’t give it to us, that’s money and income and funding that we could’ve used to take care of our three children and not pay bills. That money is essential.”

Advocates say the child support provision should cost $3.5 million. The TANF increase to 50% would cost roughly $40 million. Although, that money comes directly from federal block grants.

House Bill 4423 passed unanimously out of committee and now heads to the House floor for second reading.

You can learn more about the state’s TANF program by clicking here.

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