TANF is a federal financial assistance program that provides cash to low-income families. Also known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, this program is designed to help low-income families become self-sufficient.
Those who need assistance with bills or help paying for food, clothing or shelter should apply for TANF as soon as possible. Although TANF is a federal program, it is managed by individual states. The federal government provides funding to each state, and each state distributes the funds to qualified applicants.
TANF is the largest source of financial help when it comes to cash welfare systems. Millions of low-income families rely on TANF funds to make ends meet. The program is designed to be a bridge to self-sufficiency, so assistance is not meant to last forever.
This financial assistance program has four primary goals. They are:
- Provide assistance to low-income families with children so that they can live in their own home or the homes of relatives.
- End the dependency of low-income parents on government benefits through work, job preparation and marriage.
- Reduce the rate of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
- Promote the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.
To qualify for this financial assistance program, applicants must meet the program criteria in the state in which they live. Each state may have slightly different requirements, but the following federal qualification criteria also apply:
- Be a resident of the state in which you apply.
- Be a U.S. citizen, legal alien or qualified alien.
- Be unemployed or underemployed.
Additionally, one of the following must be true:
- Have a child 18 years of age or younger, OR
- Be pregnant, OR
- Be 18 years of age or younger AND the head of your household.
The total amount of financial assistance you can receive through TANF varies depending on where you live. Each state may have different maximum benefit amounts. It may also vary depending on the size of your family. Typically, the more family members you have, the more money you can receive.
Getting financial help through TANF often means meeting employment requirements. Typically, adults must participate in employment activities for a minimum number of hours each week. These activities include things like:
- On-the-job training.
- Unsubsidized employment.
- Subsidized employment.
- Work search activities.
- Community service
For example, a single parent with a child younger than 6 years of age must participate at least 20 hours per week. A single parent with a child older than six or two-parent families with one disabled adult must participate at least 30 hours per week.
Teens who apply for this financial assistance program have different requirements. They may have satisfactory attendance at school or partake in education related to employment for at least 20 hours per week.
TANF benefits typically last for no more than 60 months. However, some states may have exemptions for applicants undergoing a hardship.