The families of more than 6,500 needy children will face cuts in monthly benefits because of a recent decision by the U.S. Congress, a top state official said Friday.

The reduced aid will take effect Dec. 1, said Ruth Johnson, secretary of the state Department of Children and Family Services, called DCFS.

It is part of a $17 million state reduction — 9 percent of a federal grant — that stemmed from a recent decision by Congress not to renew federal aid that Louisiana and 16 other states have gotten since 1996.

The biggest impact will be felt in Louisiana’s Kinship Care Subsidy Program, which provides cash for a child being taken care of by a relative other than a parent.

The $280 monthly average will be cut to $222 starting next month, a 21 percent reduction.

Johnson said the assistance applies to cases such as a child cared for by a grandmother because the mother is dealing with a substance abuse problem.

Applicants have to meet income and other requirements to qualify.

Johnson said 6,574 children are in the program.

The reduction applies to a federal effort called the Supplemental Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

The supplement has been in effect since the enactment of a landmark federal welfare law in 1996.

But when TANF was extended by Congress at the end of September the supplemental assistance was not continued, Johnson said.

“It was seen as low-hanging fruit because it only affected 17 states,” she said of the decision.

Federal budget problems mean it is not likely that the aid will ever be renewed, Johnson said.

“Because of the need for the federal government to reduce expenditures, we don’t foresee that the supplemental grant will ever return,” she said.

TANF offers cash assistance for the needy and averages $186 per recipient per month. The reduction in monthly aid for needy children accounts for $5.2 million of the $17 million cut.

Other cutbacks include:

  •   $2 million for child protection investigations, which Johnson said will not affect child safety because of other budget changes.
  •   $3.6 million in administration and modernization efforts.
  •   $3.6 million in employment assistance.
  •   $1.5 million for the Office of Juvenile Justice.