45 CFR 260.34 - When do the Charitable Choice provisions of TANF apply?
(a) These Charitable Choice provisions apply whenever a State or local government uses Federal TANF funds or expends State and local funds used to meet maintenance-of-effort (MOE) requirements of the TANF program to directly procure services and benefits from non-governmental organizations, or provides TANF beneficiaries with certificates, vouchers, or other forms of indirect disbursement redeemable from such organizations. For purposes of this section:
(1) Direct funding or funds provided directly means that the government or an intermediate organization with the same duties as a governmental entity under this part selects the provider and purchases the needed services straight from the provider (e.g., via a contract or cooperative agreement).
(2) Indirect funding or funds provided indirectly means placing the choice of service provider in the hands of the beneficiary, and then paying for the cost of that service through a voucher, certificate, or other similar means of payment.
(1) Religious organizations are eligible, on the same basis as any other organization, to participate in TANF as long as their Federal TANF or State MOE funded services are provided consistent with the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
(2) Neither the Federal government nor a State or local government in its use of Federal TANF or State MOE funds shall, in the selection of service providers, discriminate for or against an organization that applies to provide, or provides TANF services or benefits on the basis of the organization's religious character or affiliation.
(c) No Federal TANF or State MOE funds provided directly to participating organizations may be expended for inherently religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytization. If an organization conducts such activities, it must offer them separately, in time or location, from the programs or services for which it receives direct Federal TANF or State MOE funds under this part, and participation must be voluntary for the beneficiaries of those programs or services.
(d) A religious organization that participates in the TANF program will retain its independence from Federal, State, and local governments and may continue to carry out its mission, including the definition, practice and expression of its religious beliefs, provided that it does not expend Federal TANF or State MOE funds that it receives directly to support any inherently religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytization. Among other things, faith-based organizations may use space in their facilities to provide TANF-funded services without removing religious art, icons, scriptures, or other symbols. In addition, a Federal TANF or State MOE funded religious organization retains the authority over its internal governance, and it may retain religious terms in its organization's name, select its board members on a religious basis, and include religious references in its organization's mission statements and other governing documents.
(e) The participation of a religious organization in, or its receipt of funds from, a TANF program does not affect that organization's exemption provided under 42 U.S.C. 2000e-1 regarding employment practices.
(f) A religious organization that receives Federal TANF or State MOE funds shall not, in providing program services or benefits, discriminate against a TANF applicant or recipient on the basis of religion, a religious belief, a refusal to hold a religious belief, or a refusal to actively participate in a religious practice.
(1) If an otherwise eligible TANF applicant or recipient objects to the religious character of a TANF service provider, the recipient is entitled to receive services from an alternative provider to which the individual has no religious objection. In such cases, the State or local agency must refer the individual to an alternative provider of services within a reasonable period of time, as defined by the State or local agency. That alternative provider must be reasonably accessible and have the capacity to provide comparable services to the individual. Such services shall have a value that is not less than the value of the services that the individual would have received from the program participant to which the individual had such objection, as defined by the State or local agency.
(2) The alternative provider need not be a secular organization. It must simply be a provider to which the recipient has no religious objection. States may adopt reasonable definitions of the terms “reasonably accessible,” “a reasonable period of time,” “comparable,” “capacity,” and “ value that is not less than.” We expect States to apply these terms in a fair and consistent manner.
(3) The appropriate State or local governments that administer Federal TANF or State MOE funded programs shall ensure that notice of their right to alternative services is provided to applicants or recipients. The notice must clearly articulate the recipient's right to a referral and to services that reasonably meet the timeliness, capacity, accessibility, and equivalency requirements discussed above.
(h) Religious organizations that receive Federal TANF and State MOE funds are subject to the same regulations as other non-governmental organizations to account, in accordance with generally accepted auditing/accounting principles, for the use of such funds. Religious organizations may keep Federal TANF and State MOE funds they receive for services segregated in a separate account from non-governmental funds. If religious organizations choose to segregate their funds in this manner, only the Federal TANF and State MOE funds are subject to audit by the government under the program.
(i) This section applies whenever a State or local organization uses Federal TANF or State MOE funds to procure services and benefits from non-governmental organizations, or redeems certificates, vouchers, or other forms of disbursement from them whether with Federal funds, or State and local funds claimed to meet the MOE requirements of section 409(a)(7) of the Social Security Act. Subject to the requirements of paragraph (j), when State or local funds are used to meet the TANF MOE requirements, the provisions apply irrespective of whether the State or local funds are commingled with Federal funds, segregated, or expended in separate State programs.
(j) Preemption. Nothing in this section shall be construed to preempt any provision of a State constitution, or State statute that prohibits or restricts the expenditure of segregated or separate State funds in or by religious organizations.
(k) If a non-governmental intermediate organization, acting under a contract or other agreement with a State or local government, is given the authority under the contract or agreement to select non-governmental organizations to provide Federal TANF or MOE funded services, the intermediate organization must ensure that there is compliance with the Charitable Choice statutory provisions and these regulations. The intermediate organization retains all other rights of a non-governmental organization under the Charitable Choice statute and regulations.
(l) Any party which seeks to enforce its right under this section may assert a civil action for injunctive relief exclusively in an appropriate State court against the entity or agency that allegedly commits such violation.