Joint Letter with ACF
Dear State TANF Agency Official:
As you know, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is the Federal agency that administers the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Federal civil rights laws that govern the TANF program.
In accordance with the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA), HHS published an interim final rule that implemented changes to the TANF program on June 29, 2006. Following publication of the interim final rule, states raised questions related to compliance with civil rights laws, and, in particular, meeting the needs of TANF applicants and beneficiaries with disabilities. It should be stated here that neither the DRA nor the interim final rule changed anything related to a state's obligation to adhere to Federal civil rights laws. However, it has been some time since HHS has provided information related to those issues. Therefore we thought it would be appropriate to send the enclosed document entitled Frequently Asked Questions: Meeting the Needs of TANF Applicants and Beneficiaries under Federal Civil Rights Laws. Please note that TANF guidance developed by OCR in the past, including Prohibition Against Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in the Administration of TANF and Civil Rights and Welfare Reform – An Overview and Technical Assistance for Caseworkers on Civil Rights Law and Welfare Reform, remains in effect.
ACF and OCR are committed to providing technical assistance to ensure that TANF agencies meet their obligations to comply with Federal civil rights laws. As you know, compliance ensures that applicants and beneficiaries have an equal opportunity to participate in TANF programs and receive TANF benefits in an environment free of discrimination. We encourage you to review and circulate the Frequently Asked Questions throughout your agency. They address a number of important questions about serving TANF applicants and beneficiaries with disabilities and limited English proficiency.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact Kenneth D. Johnson in OCR at (202) 619-0128, or your Regional Representative in ACF.
/s/ Winston A. Wilkinson 10/16/2007
Office for Civil Rights
/s/ Daniel Schneider 12/12/2007
Acting Assistant Secretary
Administration for Children
cc: Regional OCR and ACF Offices