A year and half ago the state of Tennessee began testing welfare applicants for drug use. Our of 39,121 people who have applied for Families First in Tennessee benefits 65 out of 609 tested have shown positive test results. Applicants must answer a questionnaire and based on their answers will or will not be tested. The 609 tests have a price tag of $23,592 or $38.74 per test. Of those asked to take a drug test 116 people refused to be screened for drugs or else dropped out of the program.

Many taxpayers believe it is wrong to test for drugs those who work, while not testing those receiving government aid paid for by those who are able or willing to work. You be the judge.

DHS for the State of Tennessee, Families First

The positive test results amount to a 10.7 percent drug use rate among those tested, and the number of tests ordered amounts to just 1.6 percent of the total applicant pool. If the state’s drug screening questionnaire is as effective at gauging risk as the state thinks it is, then its two-layered testing system has revealed that just 0.2 percent of welfare applicants can’t pass a drug test.

While many people believe this isn’t worth the cost it likely is and will be continued. There is at least 10% who test positive and another 19% who either refused to be tested or dropped out of the program rather than submit to a test. 

Alleged Florida heroin dealer getting $900.00 per month for food stamps, US Herald

Here is a brief summary of the Tennessee Families First Program.

Families First, the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, is a workforce development and employment program. It is temporary and has a primary focus on gaining self-sufficiency through employment. The Families First program helps participants reach this goal by providing transportation, child care assistance, education, job training, employment activities, and other support services. Temporary cash assistance is also provided to families with dependent children when at least one parent is incapacitated, unemployed, deceased, or absent from the home, and the family is unable to pay for essential living expenses. To be eligible for the program, participants must meet technical and financial eligibility standards and must agree to follow a Personal Responsibility Plan (PRP). As part of the PRP, the participants agree to keep immunizations and health checks up-to-date for their children, to keep their children in school, to cooperate with child support services and, if not exempt, to participate in work and/or training for at least 30 hours per week.  Current Families First recipients can find information on their Families First case with CaseConnect. Families First cash assistance benefits are issued and accessed electronically using a Benefit Security Card or EBT Card. To apply for benefits, visit the local DHS county office. ATTENTION FAMILIES FIRST RECIPIENTS:  Under Federal law, it is illegal for you to use your EBT card at the following locations: liquor stores, casinos and adult cabarets (strip clubs). The Tennessee Department of Human Services has increased monitoring EBT card usage and enforcement. Effective July 1, 2014 additional penalties will apply if benefits are misused. Restricted businesses are also subject to penalties. 

See more at: https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/topic/families-first-tanf#sthash.r5gnby85.dpuf

Steve Lombardi
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