National – In 2014, how was welfare money spent?

DEFINE CATEGORIES
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Cash Assistance
Essentially, cash welfare payments.
Work-Related Activities and Supports
A broad category, including subsidized employment opportunities, transportation help, career counseling, education and retraining.
Child care
Typically, vouchers for child care to allow parents to work or programs to provide child care directly to working parents.
Administration & Systems
Typically program expenses.
Refundable Tax Credits
Examples include child care tax credits and state-based Earned Income Tax Credits, programs designed to give working families a boost when they file their taxes if their income falls below a certain threshold.
Non-Recurrent, Short-Term Benefits
These are “one-time, short-term benefits to families in the form of cash, vouchers, subsidies, or similar form of payment to deal with a specific crisis situation or episode of need,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Many families might not qualify for ongoing cash assistance or other benefits, but might be eligible for a short period in the case of a job loss, health emergency or other crisis.
Transferred to SSBG
States can add a portion of their welfare funds to another federal program, the Social Services Block Grant, which can be used toward slightly different aims, including day care, adoption, substance abuse counseling and more. The SSBG is substantially smaller than TANF; it was $2.74 billion in combined federal and state spending in 2014.
Out of Wedlock Pregnancy Prevention & Two Parent Family Formation/Maintenance
One of the four purposes of the 1996 welfare reform law, states can categorize an array of different social programs as efforts to prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancy. New Jersey, for example, runs an advisory board, programs at school sites and hotlines geared toward stopping teen pregnancies. Michigan targets at-risk youths with some programs, but most funds in this category go toward college scholarships, benefitting both poor and middle-class youths.
AUPL and other Non-Assistance
After welfare reform, some state programs that were permitted under the old system were carried over to the new system. These were “authorized under a prior law” or AUPL. Non-assistance refers to programs that fulfill at least one of TANF’s four purposes but are not directed at basic needs. The federal government wants more detail on where and how this money is being spent and is developing a new reporting form. As a trial effort, states submitted more detailed snapshots of their non-assistance spending for four months in 2011. Notable examples included: child welfare and child welfare services in Georgia, including foster care and adoption ($42 million); administrative costs for a TANF program evaluation in Colorado ($18 million); investigations of child abuse in Connecticut ($13 million); and college scholarships in Massachusetts ($39 million). Other sample expenditures include funding for food banks, domestic violence shelters and emergency foster care funding.

For more, see the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ categories and definitions.