According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16.1 percent of children under age 18 lived in poverty in 2020, up from 14.4 percent the year before. The poverty rate also ticked up for people aged 18 to 64, from 9.4 percent to 10.4 percent.
Each year, the federal government awards states a block grant, or lump sum, of funding, with the intention that the money is spent to help poor people meet their basic needs. States have discretion in how they can use the money.
According to recently released federal data, states are sitting on $5.2 billion in unspent funds from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF.
Tennessee has $790 million in federal welfare funding sitting around — the largest pool of unspent welfare dollars nationwide.
Hawaii has $364 million idling in an account, equivalent to $2,923 per person living in poverty.
And Oklahoma has $264 million, nearly double its annual TANF budget of $138 million.