On August 16, 2013, the Commission on Education examined the impact of the policy tying Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to truancy. The data cited below was provided by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), which shows that there is a statistically small number of children impacted by this policy. But, should truancy and TANF be linked?
TANF provides money and services to families with children under the age of eighteen. Receipt of that money can be tied to the child’s school attendance. IC 12-14-2-17 states that if the child has three or more unexcused absences during a school year, the TANF assistance may be suspended or revoked. The caretaker relative is required to comply with a written improvement plan concerning attendance as part of the process. If the family is penalized, the caretaker loses the assistance until compliance or the child’s attendance is satisfactory. A penalty against the child’s TANF benefit lasts until the end of the grading period.
In SFY12 (State’s fiscal year 2012), there were 42,805 TANF cases in Indiana, and 26, 660 in SFY13. Of those cases, in SFY12, only 111 TANF cases were sanctioned (0.26% of all TANF cases), and 74 cases in SFY13 (0.28% of all TANF cases).
Looking at a different view, according to the Department of Education, there were 960,967 children enrolled in K-12 schooling. Of those, 12,225 were TANF eligible, which is 1.27% of total enrollment.
The FSSA presentation also noted that the State of Michigan implemented a new truancy policy in October 2012 that could disqualify an entire TANF group (basically the household), if a dependent child is not attending school full-time.