How TANF dollars are allowed to funnel into non-profits

How non-profits get TANF funds

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -There’s no shortage of frustration over these accusations of embezzlement involving TANF funds in Mississippi.

The Legislative Black Caucus releasing a statement Friday saying they will work to right the wrongs and put better oversight in place.

People in Mississippi are suffering too much.

Posted by Angela Turner Ford on Friday, February 7, 2020

There is a framework that allows legal transfer of those federal TANF dollars from the Department of Human Services to non-profits like the Mississippi Community Education Center.

“In 1996 the welfare reform act was passed and what that act did was it create this mechanism for block grants to happen. So, what that meant was, the federal government would send the money down to the states and the states could decide how to spend that money.”

In this case, the non-profits are considered sub-grantees. And according to the DHS manual, those subgrantees should be following guidelines and policies. But...

“That’s where there’s no accountability and loopholes can be created and that’s exactly what has happened.”

Rep. Jarvis Dortch says it’s a process that most likely know little about.

“I think the general public should understand this is one of the problems with block granting. When they hear about how states can benefit from being untied from rules to use block grant dollars for healthcare or TANF or welfare. This is the kind of stuff that happens when people don’t pay attention.”

But a search of the State Auditor’s reports dating back for the last ten years, shows there have been multiple requests for DHS to strengthen controls surrounding subgrantees getting TANF dollars. One report even noting: “Failure to properly monitor subrecipients could allow noncompliance with federal regulations to occur and go undetected, potentially resulting in questioned costs.”

There’s also now a renewed push to put a board for DHS in place, including parents and providers, to better oversee how the money is being spent.

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