What is TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)?

It is possible that due to certain circumstances you or your family find yourself in a difficult economic situation. For these cases, the United States government has designed different plans that help people in need. Each plan is aimed at meeting specific economic needs and situations. In this article we will explain what is TANF, how to apply and what are the requirements you must meet to request the Temporary Assistance Program for Needy Families.

What is TANF

What is TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)?

The TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is a grant program funded by the federal government that allows states to create and administer their own assistance programs for families in need. TANF replaces federal programs, formerly known as welfare, and allows states to offer a wide variety of services.

A significant change from the old welfare system is that TANF recipients must be engaged in work activities to receive benefits. This means that parents who receive TANF must have some kind of job, work toward a job, or take classes to increase their chances of long-term employment.

Beneficiaries may also be eligible for:

  • WIC (Women, Infants and Children)
  • SNAP benefits (to buy food)

Ultimately, the goal of TANF is to provide needy families with a combination of financial assistance and job opportunities so they can become independent.

How is TANF applied?

TANF is administered by the Office of Family Assistance, which is part of the Administration for Children and Families. Each state has its own local TANF office. However, the names of the TANF programs vary from state to state. Therefore, you will need to contact your state to find out the name of the local program and gain access to services.

What are the requirements for parents receiving TANF?

As a single parent receiving TANF, you will be required to participate in “qualifying work activities” for at least 30 hours per week. In most cases, you are expected to get a job immediately after receiving assistance. All recipients must be employed within two years in order to continue receiving benefits.

What work activities qualify?

Qualifying work activities are made up of “Main Work Activities” and “Non-Main Work Activities.” Your “Main Work Activities” must take up at least 20 of your 30 weekly work hours.

Primary Qualifying Work Activities

The following activities qualify as “main work activities” for TANF:

  • unsubsidized employment
  • Subsidized employment in the private sector
  • Work experience
  • Subsidized employment in the public sector
  • on the job training
  • Job search (limited to no more than 4 weeks in a row or 6 weeks total)
  • Participation in a community service program
  • Professional training (limited to 12 months)
  • Providing childcare to another TANF recipient who is participating in community service

Non-core qualifying activities

Some work-related activities also qualify. These can be:

  • Job Skills Training
  • Education related to your job
  • High school or a GED program

Exceptions to the Single Parent Work Rule

If you have children under the age of 6 and you cannot find a suitable nursery, the State cannot penalize you for not fulfilling the work requirement. In addition, those with children under the age of 6 are only required to perform a total of 20 hours of work activities per week.

What happens if you can’t meet the job requirements?

The state can reduce or revoke your benefits.

Are there limits to how long you can receive TANF benefits?

Yes. In most cases, you can only receive TANF benefits for a maximum of 5 years (or 60 months).

Keep reading: