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Legislative Background

In 1995, the Texas legislature passed landmark legislation, House Bill 1863, in anticipation of the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA). House Bill 1863 established time limits and work requirements for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients. House Bill 1863 also laid the foundation for the current Texas welfare, workforce development and subsidized child care systems.

The changes created by House Bill 1863 and implemented over the following five years were in line with three overriding philosophies in Texas government:

  • Local control
  • Smaller, more efficient government
  • An emphasis on work and individual responsibility

Texas established local level management of more programs than most other states — including TANF Employment and Training (Choices), Workforce Investment Act, other workforce development programs and child care. Texas has, however, retained central administration of TANF eligibility determination, benefits disbursement or sanctions imposition, through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

New requirements under House Bill 1863 supported the use of public assistance as a temporary benefit.  Under the bill, adult TANF recipients are subject to time-limited benefits as short as one year, for the most highly educated and job ready, followed by a five-year "freeze-out". Welfare Reform in Texas emphasized the importance of working, the temporary nature of public assistance and the belief that parents are responsible for the care and well-being of their families. Caseloads dropped substantially after 1996.

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Our Role

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) leads the development of workforce solutions that offer Texans the opportunity to achieve and sustain economic success. We achieve this mission by providing advanced data analysis, policy research, policy development and technical assistance, and building strategic partnerships as described below.

Data Analysis

We regularly analyze a broad range of welfare data relating to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program performance, caseloads and projections for legislative and executive/state leadership. That analysis identifies areas of success and challenges within the system, and informs policy development.

Policy Research and Development

We provide state leaders and decision makers with analysis and research on TANF and welfare reform issues, enabling them to set sound policies and plan for efficient service delivery. We also produce reports and studies that effectively communicate agency positions and decisions to stakeholders.

Technical Assistance and Training

We provide policy guidance and technical assistance training to state and local members of the Texas Workforce Solutions network focusing on areas of emerging concern and transition. TWC is a recognized authority regarding welfare reform research, analysis and policy development, and agency staff frequently make presentations to national public policy organizations, legislative committees and academic conferences.

Building Strategic Partnerships

TWC is an integral part of numerous state-level coalitions, intra-agency workgroups, national think tanks and informal networks of individuals and organizations dealing with issues surrounding welfare reform. These valuable connections position TWC to be the primary source of welfare-related data and policy analysis in Texas.

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State of Texas Welfare-Related Legislation

Resources Related to Texas Welfare Reform

  • The Texas Register published by the Texas Secretary of State serves as the journal of state agency rulemaking. The Texas Register includes emergency, proposed and adopted rules; notices of withdrawn and repealed rules; notices of rule review and other information submitted by state agencies for publication.
  • The Texas Health and Human Services’ Texas Works Handbook contains information about the policies and procedures used to determine eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Medical Programs for Families and Children.

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