North Carolina Suspends Welfare Program Thanks To The Shutdown


Welfare Reform 3x2


On Monday, North Carolina became the first state to halt its welfare program, called Work First in the state and funded through the Temporary Assistance for Need Families (TANF) program, thanks to the government shutdown. While current enrollees will get October benefits, county offices have been instructed to stop processing new applications and November benefits won’t go out if the shutdown isn’t resolved in time. More than 20,700 state residents are enrolled in the program.

When Congress failed to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded, it also failed to extend funding for TANF, meaning that state programs haven’t been getting any federal funding since October 1. Before Monday, all states had stepped up to cover the costs themselves. Arizona originally cut off benefits but later reversed course.

But experts have warned that if the shutdown lasted more than a month some would start cutting off benefits. “After a month states [will] start to get nervous,” wondering when they will get federal funding, Elizabeth Lower-Basch, policy coordinator at CLASP, previously told ThinkProgress. As it wears on, more states are likely to join North Carolina.

The state had also previously said it would cut off benefits to 50,000 low-income mothers and children from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which is also not seeing any federal funds in the shutdown. But two days later it reversed that decision and continued issuing benefits.

TANF lifted 650,000 children out of deep poverty in 2005. Without the benefits, poverty would be 0.3 percent higher.