State House adopts bill to help alleviate family poverty

Kent Rep. Entenman sponsored bill

  • Friday, February 14, 2020 1:53pm
  • News
Debra Entenmen

Debra Entenmen

Families who rely on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program may soon have an easier time accessing this vital cash benefit.

House Bill 2441, sponsored by Rep. Debra Entenman, D-Kent, passed the House 57-41 on Friday. This bill would ease restrictions on access to TANF and remove a policy that punished children when their parents fell out of compliance with the program, according to a Washington House Democrats news release.

TANF has strict restrictions on its use including a five-year lifetime limit on receiving benefits and strict job training requirements. However, prior to 2008 families could receive extensions to the five-year time limit if they could show a hardship. After the financial crisis in 2008, the ability to gain an extension was severely limited. Families were given a shorter grace period for falling out of compliance, orientation requirements were increased, and the Legislature made it possible to permanently disqualify a family. These changes significantly reduced the number of TANF recipients. African American, Indigenous and Hispanic families were disproportionately disqualified from the program.

“The bill I introduced allows for more hardship exemptions to the five-year limit and ensures that that if an adult is sanctioned for non-compliance, the children in the family will not lose assistance,” Entenman said in the news release. “This program was designed to provide families with a path to self-sufficiency. Taking away assistance from vulnerable children does nothing to help lift that family out of poverty.”

HB 2441 gives parents a four-month grace period to come into compliance with the program and reduces a family’s grant by 40% after that. The children’s portion of the TANF grant cannot be terminated because of the parent’s inability to comply.

This legislation will now go to the Senate for consideration.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Kent School District updates Back to School plan

Details about potential return to buildings

Federal Way teacher charged with raping 13-year-old student

Taught math at Totem Middle School on West Hill in Kent

Van Doren’s Landing Park in Kent to close until August 2022

Site to be relocated because of Green River levee work

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Kent, Federal Way men charged in 2017 murder of Seattle woman

Prosecutors say three gang members fired up to 16 shots at vehicle

Human remains in West Seattle identified

Bags of body parts were found in a suitcase along a West Seattle beach on June 19.

Summer vehicle travel projected to decrease this year

Traffic this summer will likely be lighter across Washington state than previous… Continue reading

Governor Jay Inslee smiles and laughs Sept. 3, 2019, during a speech at the Lynnwood Link Extension groundbreaking in Lynnwood. A Thurston County judge ruled he exceeded his authority when he vetoed single sentences in the state transportation budget in 2019. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)
Judge invalidates Gov. Inslee’s veto in roads budget

Lawmakers said the governor crossed a constitutional line.

Kent Police Blotter | June 14-29

ATM robbery; gunfire exchanged; drive-by shooting; burglary arrest

Most Read