HB22-1259 (Duran & Jodeh/Moreno) Modifications to Colorado Works Program
This bill updates and improves the TANF program, known here as Colorado Works, so that families can fully benefit from its support. The bill would increase basic cash assistance (BCA) and implement an annual cost of living adjustment to ensure that BCA keeps up with inflation and the rising cost of living. The bill also reduces punitive sanctions to minimize barriers for families seeking economic security and updates work requirements to be more responsive to families’ needs in circumstances of hardship. Additionally, the bill reduces the “cliff effect” in the program through improved income calculations and disregards as parents find employment and move toward economic security. The bill requires the state to develop an outreach and engagement plan to promote access to the program, improve communication with families, and elevate family voice in the program.
The Children’s Campaign strongly supports this bill. TANF provides financial support to families living far below the federal poverty level. A parent with two children must make less than $421 a month to qualify for TANF basic cash assistance (BCA). TANF also promotes family safety, stability, and self-sufficiency by assisting with job preparation and supporting career goals and employment. Even before the pandemic, families enrolled in TANF were facing the greatest barriers to financial security and well-being. Even though unemployment and economic struggle went up during the pandemic, TANF caseload numbers actually declined, indicating that the program can be improved to be more responsive to families’ needs. The TANF statute has not been meaningfully updated in years, and there are outdated practices and assistance that need to be improved. Colorado should increase BCA, which is the most targeted approach to reducing extreme childhood poverty, and improve the ways in which TANF serves families.
In its final concurrence vote, the bill passed out of the House on a vote of 44-21. It now heads to the governor for his signature.
May 8, 2022
The bill passed out of the Senate Finance Committee as amended on a bipartisan vote of 4-1. Sarah Barnes, our Manager of Special Policy Initiatives, testified in support. The bill now heads to Senate Appropriations.
April 15, 2022
The bill passed out of the House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee, as amended, on a vote of 9-3. Sarah Barnes, Manager of Special Policy Initiatives, testified in support of the bill. It now heads to Appropriations.
February 25, 2022
Introduced in the House and assigned to the Public & Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee for hearing on March 8 at 1:30 p.m.