States, the District of Columbia, and US territories receive nearly $16.5 billion under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) scheme (Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico).
What is TANF?
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a program that provides welfare chechls and other assistance to low-income families with children.
TANF has several purposes, including helping low-income parents go to work so they can better support their families.
The program includes targets that states are expected to meet in terms of helping parents work or prepare for jobs. To meet those targets, states contribute funds as well as receive shares of a fixed federal block grant.
In addition to paying welfare checks, states use these funds to provide child care, transportation, and other work supports.
The tribal TANF service is available to federally approved American Indian tribes and Alaska Native organizations.
The TANF policy gives states (which for this reason includes DC and territories) independence in running services aimed at helping low-income families with children gain economic self-sufficiency. TANF cash aid is not provided explicitly to the general population by the federal government. Instead, states use their TANF funds to finance regular cash aid transfers to low-income families with children, as well as a variety of programs aimed at one or more of the program’s four goals:
- Provide support to low-income families so that their children can be cared for at home or with friends.
- Stop vulnerable parents’ reliance on government assistance by encouraging career planning, work, and marriage.
- Prevent and reduce the number of unintended births.
- Encourage two-parent families to develop and stay together.
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), which established TANF and replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and associated services, articulated these goals.
The TANF and territorial TANF services are administered by the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) at the state level. OFA is part of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a Department of Health and Human Services agency (HHS).
Make contact with
Find your state program to learn more about your state’s policies.
Mail info.OFA@acf.hhs.gov with any concerns about the federal administration of TANF.