Apr 15, 2024

An expert in policy advocacy and coalition building, Chaer has dedicated her career to helping people meet their basic needs and expanding economic opportunity. She serves on the executive committee of the All Families Deserve a Chance (AFDC) coalition. Staff page ›

Recent articles

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.

CCLP testifies in support of TANF grant rule change

by | Apr 15, 2024

CCLP’s Emeritus Advisor, Chaer Robert, provided written testimony in support of the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) rule on the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase for TANF recipients, at CDHS’s Board Meeting on April 5, 2024. The proposed rule, with the required increased, is scheduled to be voted on at CDHS’s next Board Meeting on May 3, 2024. If adopted, the cost of living increase would go into effect on July 1, 2024.


Dear Members,

Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) worked hard to pass HB22-1259, Modifications to Colorado Works Program. We support this rule change increasing the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) grant based on the formula spelled out in the bill – two percent above the previous year’s grant or the average of the last three years’ Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), whichever is greater.

When Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) became TANF in 1996, the grant for one caregiver and two children was $356 per month, or 33% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) at that time. If the Colorado TANF grant kept pace with national inflation, it would be at $702.33 as of February of this year, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unfortunately, the value of the monthly TANF grant has eroded.

This proposed rule would raise monthly basic cash assistance from $559 to $592, an increase of $33, for one caregiver and two kids. This represents 28% of the FPL, far below what the U.S. Census considers extreme poverty – 50% of the FPL. It also equals about eight percent of what a family of one adult and two children, one preschooler and one school age, needs in metro Denver to be able to meet basic needs without public or private supports based on the 2022 Colorado Self-Sufficiency Standard.

Inflation has also eroded the value of the federal TANF block grant since 1996. That is why our sponsors – Senator Dominick Moreno and Representative Monica Duran – and advocates fought hard to add funding for the bill’s provisions.

  1. For the first time since TANF was created, the bill authorized and projected using up to $15 million in the state’s General Fund per year to fund provisions of the bill.
  2. Representative Duran was able to shepherd $21.5 million in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to provide transitional costs of the bill.
  3. Use of all TANF money – including current year block grant and county and state reserves – could be tapped to fund the bill. Counties were not required to add any non-TANF dollars, but were required to use reserves of TANF funds, and required TANF match maintenance of effort (MOE) funding. The state is required to backfill county TANF reserves if they fall below 15% of the annual block grant amount.
  4. The Joint Budget Committee was authorized to use unclaimed property funds to meet any shortfall that occurred in years where state revenues fell below the TABOR cap.

This rule is required by HB22-1259 and reflects the basic purpose of TANF.

Please support this rule change.


Chaer Robert
Emeritus Advisor
Colorado Center on Law and Policy

Recent articles

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.


To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.


Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.


Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.


Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.