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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) caseloads have risen sharply in Washington over the last year. Since April 2008, total TANF caseloads in the state went up by 9,000. The increase to over 60,000 cases in April this year can be attributed both to rising numbers of people entering the program and decreasing numbers of people exiting.

Back in November, the Caseload Forecast Council predicted that TANF caseloads would remain under 60,000 through 2011. In March, the Council recalibrated its forecasting to include more recent economic trends and projections such as rising unemployment.

As the graph below depicts, the new forecasting seems to be working. In March, the Council predicted TANF caseloads would be 61,550 in April and the total caseloads were actually 60,809. Currently, the state predicts that TANF caseloads will rise by 13 percent this year and 11 percent in 2010. Caseloads are projected to decrease by less than one percent in 2011.

Washington is applying for the maximum allotment from TANF contingency funds, including funds from the federal stimulus bill to support increasing caseloads and other TANF efforts at the state level. The total amount for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 will be $190 million. All the funds received will be used to backfill rising caseload costs and help preserve basic services.

Note: TANF caseloads are affected by seasonal employment patterns. They tend to rise during the fall and winter and fall during spring and summer.

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