Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is announcing new performance statistics that show New Hampshire outperformed other Northeast states in engaging families on assistance in work activities. Federal law requires that 50% of recipients in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program be engaged in federally defined work activities.
The Federal Administration for Children and Families report shows New Hampshire’s participation rate for 2007 was 42%. While the federal mandate is a 50% participation rate, federal allowances for caseloads makes up the difference. This marks a 72% improvement in engagement of TANF recipients work activities in New Hampshire from 2006 to 2007. This improvement was 4th highest in the country.
“Improving the TANF work participation rate” said DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas, “is evidence that we’re helping bring people another step closer to achieving their employment goals, while helping them be able to provide basic needs for their loved ones.” .
DHHS’ Division of Family Assistance (DFA) oversees the TANF Program. "To achieve the participation rate,” said DFA Director Terry Smith, "the Department made a number of changes to the program. For instance, under our old program, we determined eligibility and gave a check before sending clients to their first work-related appointment. As many as 70% did not show up. So we made participation in work program orientation a condition of eligibility. This means, before they can get a check now, they have to come to an appointment and learn about what the New Hampshire Employment Program can do for them."
The average participation rate in the United States was 29.7%. The breakout for the Northeast is as follows:
New Hampshire 42.0%
Rhode Island 26.8%
If a State fails to meet the 50% rate, it can result in a financial penalty. If New Hampshire had missed its target, DHHS could have been subject to as much as $4 million in penalties. Vermont and Maine were identified as not meeting target participation, and look to be subject to financial penalty.