Cash Assistance Program Information

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a welfare program that assists families in need.

TANF benefits vary from state to state but are meant to help children in families where the parents or legal guardian cannot provide the family’s basic needs.

Each state receives federal grants to run the program within their state and ensure that qualifying families can receive the support that they need.  

Since each state distributes the TANF program, they have broad flexibility as to how they decide to carry out their plans. Although TANF is set at the federal level, states are responsible for designing programs within their state.

The decision on the type, amount of assistance payments, the range of other services the program provides and eligibility rules also falls to the authority of each state.

To learn what is TANF and how it was designed to help you and your family, you can read the complete sections below explaining the most critical aspects of the program.

Understanding the TANF Program

Even though TANF guidelines vary on each state, the purpose of the program remains the same. Each TANF program has working guidelines that ensure that applicants in need receive the assistance that the program provides.

The program is designed to assist beneficiaries in four different main ways: 

  • Aid families to enable them to care for their children
  • Provide preventative measures for pregnancies outside of marriage
  • Encourage the formation of two Parent Families
  • Reduce the dependency of parents in need by providing job assistance

Furthermore, TANF benefits have a maximum period of 60 months. In some states, however, the TANF program may grant children 60 months of benefits and an additional 60 months to qualifying adults, which expands the time that a family can receive benefits.

To apply for TANF, you must also be a U.S. citizen. Children must also hold citizenship or have an eligible alien status to qualify for TANF benefits.

Since the program is aimed to provide benefits for children, families must have children to qualify.

Other essential requirements under TANF also include that:

  • Children must be 18 years of age or younger.
  • Applicants older than 18 years of age must be full-time students and expect to graduate before they turn 20.
  • Beneficiaries must hold a Social Security Number.

1. Learn About TANF Assistance for Needy Families With Children

TANF benefits are given in a more direct way so the program can assist you and your family. TANF programs provide direct assistance such as cash payments and other support services.

These support services are meant to satisfy the ongoing basic needs of you and your family, so they include food, clothing, shelter and other critical personal expenses. This support is what makes most of the cash welfare support of the program.

When you apply for TANF and receive the approval from your local agency for benefits, you are entitled to receive more than just monetary support.

The TANF program promotes parental responsibility by offering its beneficiaries access to resources that improve their working opportunities and build a stable family structure.

Some of the program’s most crucial child support areas include the following:

  • Locating children’s parents
  • Establishing paternity
  • Ensuring the enforcement of support orders
  • Removing barriers of payment to provide for a child’s basic needs
  • Expanding and making health care accessible for children

2. Preventative Measures for Pregnancy

Another significant TANF benefit is helping recipients and their families avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancies and teen births. To help establish this part of the TANF program, the Department of Human Services (DHS) created several partnerships with local organizations to provide resources and support families in this matter.

It is essential to understand that these and other resources are not cash benefits, but rather access to information to foster the well-being of families in need.

Many of the TANF programs help teens and families prevent unwanted young pregnancies by encouraging personal growth and responsibility. After-school programs, youth abstinence, pregnancy prevention task forces and youth mentoring are some of the examples of the resources available.

Additionally, TANF works closely with state programs such as the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program to ensure that funds are available to the program’s participants.

By helping develop positive youth development, TANF aims to help families grow and reach the optimal quality of living.

The goal is to create a safe environment for families in which they can provide for each member responsibly and focus on their personal, educational, and professional goals.

3. Encouragement of Two-Parent Families

Through the TANF program, the Department of Human services also aims to encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

TANF benefits that help beneficiaries accomplish this goal are intended to teach essential skills to build healthy families. 

Resources on home-based parenting and family counseling are some of the tools that help recipients achieve this goal.

Other vital benefits that TANF offers in this matter include:

  • Fatherhood services. These services strengthen positive father-child engagement, foster economic stability to provide optimal care for children and building a healthy relationship.
  • Parenting skills counseling. Parents receive information about good parenting practices and skills for strong family bonds. 
  • Marriage/couples counseling. Couples receive counseling, as a healthy family has positive implications for the well-being of adults and children. TANF works along with the Office of Family Assistance to make counseling services available to families that need it.
  • Family strengthening programs: These programs contain information from other services to enhance relationship skills. Other essential resources available in family strengthening programs include education on how to control aggressive behavior, the causes of domestic violence and child abuse. These have a preventative purpose and help families develop a healthy environment.

4. Reducing Dependency of Other Welfare Programs

Finally, the TANF program aids for strong families by reducing their dependency from other welfare programs. As a program requirement, many families must satisfy particular work and education requirements, to maintain their TANF benefits, including cash payments and access to family resources.

For this reason, adult recipients must participate in work activities at least 30 hours each week on average to receive cash benefits.  

TANF also provides additional child support services to remove any barrier that adults may have that prevents them from working. For instance, the program offers access to childcare and transportation stipends.

These TANF benefits ensure that parents depend less from other welfare programs while being able to provide for their children’s basic needs.

TANF-assigned case managers can help you and your family to access some of the following resources:

  • Job skills training
  • Vocational education
  • Coverage to work-related expenses
  • Support for job search and job preparedness