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Tapping into TANF and other Stimulus Money: A Program Narrative from Maine

The following narrative has been shared by Nan Heald, Executive Director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Portland, ME. Read about what Maine is doing and how you might tap into these stimulus funds in your state.

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“Pine Tree was inspired by the excellent presentation at the 2009 NLADA Annual Conference to pursue the opportunity to participate in the TANF Stimulus Plan for Maine. Fortunately, we are a small state and the folks who run the program at the State level are very familiar and supportive of what we do, so selling it was not difficult. I had just received an unexpected and unrestricted one year grant from a private foundation -- and they were enthusiastic about the prospect of using it to draw down 4 times as much federal funding to serve our clients.

I've attached the one page MOU proposed by the State, as well as my original proposed MOU which is now been recharacterized as "Background Info" for this project. The State also asked for a copy of the grant letter from the private foundation whose $45,000 donation to Pine Tree is serving as the 20% match for this project, for their files. They suggested that the level of detail I had provided in my original draft of the MOU might unduly complicate approval by the Feds, which is why we have ended up with a one page document.

We hope to draw down up to $180,000 as a match for this grant. I'm told that final State approval will happen in a day or two, but they have advised that all of the revisions to the Maine TANF Stimulus Plan are being bundled together and may not receive final federal approval until the end of March. All services must be delivered by September 30, 2010 to be eligible for funding. As I mentioned on the call, the State has asked us to provide the client name and SS# in order to trigger the release of funds as emergency assistance for a TANF household. No other details about the services provided would be made available to the State beyond the total number of hours for which reimbursement is sought. They hinted at a willingness to consider a workaround but made it clear that this would require much more discussion and delays in billing -- and since all the services have to be billed by Sept. 30, I thought this might produce a pyrrhic victory. The simpler and faster approach will obviously require client authorization to bill specific cases to this funding source.

Pine Tree also received c. $280,000 in HPRP Stimulus Funds for homelessness prevention services. The attached letter from the general counsel for the Maine State Housing Authority clarifies that we do not need to provide client confidential information related to this project. This project just began January 1 2010 and is a two-year effort.”
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