Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a state-run,
time-limited program that assists families with children when the parents or
other responsible relatives cannot provide for the family's basic needs (such as
food, clothing and shelter). States design their TANF programs in ways that
promote work, responsibility, and self-sufficiency, and strengthen families.
The TANF program has four goals:
- To provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in
their own homes or in the homes of relatives;
- To end the dependency of needy parents on government benefits by promoting
job preparation, work, and marriage;
- To prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and
establish annual goals for preventing and reducing the occurances of these
- To encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.
States individually determine the type and amount of
assistance payments, the range of other services to be provided, and the rules
for determining who is eligible for TANF benefits.
Work Requirements: With few exceptions, TANF recipients must work
after two years on assistance. Failure to participate in work requirements can
result in either a reduction in benefits or termination of benefits. Single
parents with a child under 6 who cannot find child care will not be penalized
for not meeting the work requirements. States can also exempt single parents
with children under age one from the work requirements.
Work Activities: People who receive TANF are required to
participate in subsidized or unsubsiduzed employment, on-the-job training, work
experience, community service, or 12 months of vocational training to count
towards state work requirements. They may also meet the work requirements burden
by providing child care services to people who are participating in community
Five-Year Time Limit: Families who have received assistance for
five years (or less at state option) will be ineligible for state aid under the
new welfare law. States are permitted to exempt certain families from the time
For more information on the TANF program, contact your state social