Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott

David E. Wilkins

July 01, 2011
CONTACT: Office of Communications
(850) 488-4855

Applicants for Temporary Cash Assistance must first pass drug test
~ New law takes effect today, July 1, 2011~

TALLAHASSEE Fla – The Florida Department of Children and Families today began implementing HB 353, which requires applicants for the federally-funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF) to take a drug test before receiving the assistance.

The new law will help to ensure taxpayers' money intended to help families achieve independence and self-sufficiency is being used for those purposes.

The law does not apply to the nearly 50,000 families – about 93,000 individuals – currently receiving TANF benefits. Only those applying or re-applying beginning today will be required to take a drug test. The average monthly benefit for a family receiving TANF assistance is $240. More than 4,000 applicants per month are expected to take a drug test.

Floridians receiving food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare or any other federal assistance program will not be affected by the new law.

New applicants for TANF will be supplied a list of pre-approved local clinics for testing. The average cost of testing is expected to range from $10 to $35.

If the test indicates no sign of illegal drug use, and other eligibility requirements are met, the cost of the test will be reimbursed to the recipient with the first TANF assistance payment.

Applicants who test positive will have the opportunity to pay for a more comprehensive test. Failed applicants will have the opportunity to designate an adult to receive TANF funds for children in the household. That designated person also would be subject to a drug test.

Failed applicants will be ineligible to reapply for TANF benefits for one year. However, if a failed applicant passes an approved rehabilitation course, that person can reapply within six months.

Failed applicants also will receive a notice from the Department with information to help the applicant find treatment services to assist in efforts toward independence and self-sufficiency.

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