In 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), bringing an end to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) Program. PRWORA replaced AFDC, Emergency Assistance, and the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills program, with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant to States. Section 412 of the Act gave federally recognized Tribes the authority to independently design, administer, and operate their own Tribal TANF programs.
Through PRWORA, Federal, Tribal, State and local governments are encouraged to foster positive changes in the United States welfare system by forming partnerships with each other. PRWORA gives federally recognized Tribes flexibility in operating Tribal TANF Programs designed to:
- Provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives;
- End the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage;
- Prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establish annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies; and
- Encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.
Tribes can define the service area, the service population, time limits (but not to exceed 60 months using TANF funds), benefits and services, eligibility criteria, and work activities. Tribal TANF Programs structure their program activities according to the needs of their people and their heritage so as to preserve and protect Native American communities and cultures.
In the State of California, Assembly Bill (AB) 1542 (Chapter 270, Statutes of 1997) eliminated the AFDC program. AFDC was replaced with the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program, as California’s TANF program. The statute also required California to make an annual allocation of State General Funds to supplement federal funding to California Tribal entities administering federally approved Tribal TANF programs. State funding for a Tribal TANF program is determined by the caseload count that most accurately reflects the Native American AFDC caseload for 1994, in the Tribe’s particular service delivery area.
The Tribes, the counties, the California Department of Social Services and the Federal government (Administration for Children and Families) work in partnership to successfully establish and maintain Tribal TANF Programs that serve, strengthen and preserve California ’s Native American families.