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Before welfare reform in 1996, states were mostly required to give cash assistance to anyone who was eligible — without work requirements or time limits. The amount of money from the federal government varied year to year based on need. After welfare reform, the government capped the program at $16.5 billion dollars. Now, states receive a block grant, and they can choose to spend their federal money as long as it fits within four categories:

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Note: Single-year labels represent two-year averages; for example '2016' represents '2015-2016'.

Did You Know?

In 1996, for every 100 poor families with children in Louisiana, 48 received cash welfare. By 2016, just 4 families received TANF assistance for every 100 families with children in poverty.

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