Advocacy group asking lawmakers to put unused TANF funds towards other needs

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — An advocacy group says there are millions of dollars sitting unused that could help Mississippi families in need.

Lawmakers and members of the Mississippi Law Income Child Care Initiative filled the halls of the State Capitol.

The group released a report Thursday about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program.

“Research shows that those leaving welfare for work are 82 percent more likely to still be employed two years after leaving welfare if they’ve gotten child care assistance,” said Carol Burnett, the Executive Director of the MLICCI.

The new report says $35 million from the federal government was not used from the previous fiscal year.

“We are going to be proposing legislation that 20 million of those TANF dollars go specifically towards the child subsidy program,” said Cassandra Welchlin, director of MWESI.

The group is asking lawmakers to allow some of the money to be used towards childcare for working mothers.

“There is no way around it. the high cost of child care takes the biggest bite out of working moms low-income weekly budget,” said Rep. Barbara Blackmon, a Democrat who represents District 21.

Welchlin said there are about 12,000 people on the waiting list for the subsidy program.

They are also asking lawmakers for some of that money to fund scholarships.

“We would like for them to use some of that money as well to go into funding scholarships for folks who are eligible for TANF, or will become eligible for TANF so that they can go back to school.”

Welchlin says they are working with the Department of Human Services to see if they will allow the funds to be used without going through legislation, but if not, they will continue to ask lawmakers to look at their proposal during this year’s session.

DHS said the two organizations are working together under the TANF laws to distribute the funds.

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