Tennessee Department of Human Services has announced next steps for investing surplus funds from the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, as well as plans for responsibly maintaining the fund’s reserves.

“Unprecedented growth in our state’s economy has created a sharp decline in our TANF qualified population and also generated a generous surplus in funds,” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes. “We now have an opportunity to innovate and better serve our families in need through our Two Generation Approach while appropriately saving for a potential downturn in the economy.”

Moving forward, the department will retain a 3-year surplus of funds of approximately $342 million and TDHS will re-open the Two Generation (2Gen) grant process for extended partnerships with non-profit groups and community organizations. By 2020, there will be more than $84 million invested in 2Gen grants with further investment planned.

Additionally, the department will work closely with other state departments in funding projects focused on housing, family and stabilization, educational support for children, drug addiction, and workforce development.

TDHS has already obligated a $56 million grant to Tennessee Department of Health to expand home visitation services to every county in Tennessee as part of early intervention efforts. The following will be obligated within 2020:

•Approximately $30 million investment to expand resources and collaboration with Tennessee Department of Education to expand family resource centers.

•Approximately $30 million investment in new resources and assistance to Tennessee Department of Mental Health to expand programs such as the Therapeutic Intervention, Education, and Skills Program and other programs that support families facing drug addiction or mental health issues.

•Approximately $10 million investment for additional collaboration with Tennessee Department of Children’s Services to create a program that assists relative caregivers and helps keep children together with their families and prevention/mitigation of adverse childhood experiences.

TDHS will also invest more than $80 million in programming that supports the following efforts:

•Implementing a child support unit to provide employment and re-entry services to non-custodial parents.

•Employment programming that addresses the medical and mental health needs of Families First clients.

•After-school programs to provide tutoring, healthy lifestyles, abstinence education, and work force development for teenagers.

•Programming to assist families with transportation barriers in both rural and urban communities.

Families First, the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, is a workforce development and employment program that emphasizes work, training, and personal responsibility. It is temporary and has a primary focus on gaining self-sufficiency through employment by providing temporary cash assistance, transportation, child care assistance, educational supports, job training, employment activities, and other support services.

More information about the Two Generation Approach and 2Gen grants is available at https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/for-families/families-first-tanf/applying-for-services.html.