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Vainieri Huttle and Reynolds-Jackson Bill to Repeal ‘Family Cap’ in Work First NJ Program Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – To ensure individuals participating in the WorkFirstNJ program have the option to expand their cash assistance benefits if they welcome a new child, the Assembly Budget Committee on Tuesday advanced legislation to repeal the ‘family cap’ program policy in Work First NJ.

The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program within WorkFirstNJ provides cash and other assistance to low-income families with dependent children. The amount of monthly cash assistance is determined by the size of the household. However, if a new child is born, families are not able to increase the size of their assistance to accurately reflect their household, with limited exceptions.

This bill (A-3292), sponsored by Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) would rescind this policy, known as the ‘family cap’.

The sponsors released the following joint statement:

“Since New Jersey enacted family cap rules in 1992, an estimated 20,000 children have been prevented from receiving benefits due to the current ‘family cap’ policy. Families are being denied critical assistance that may have helped them build a better life. The purpose of Work First NJ is to help lift people out of poverty and become self-sufficient; the family cap policy works against this mission. Repealing this rule will help growing families meet their growing needs as they work to build a brighter future.”