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TANF Explained

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, is a program that provides for families when they have fallen on hard-times. Often called “welfare”, it assists with household expenses until the income level of the home has increased.

Created in 1996, TANF has the following goals:

  • Assisting families so that children can be cared for.
  • Reducing the need of parents to be dependent on the government, through providing them with work preparation and employment.

Due to the economic crisis, millions of people now rely on TANF, which is providing them with the means to provide for their children, while also helping them find gainful and steady employment. 

In order to be able to receive TANF though, one must be eligible for it.

General Guidelines

The general guidelines for eligibility for TANF is that one must be a U.S. citizen, an eligible non-citizen, and a resident of the state in which they are applying for assistance.

How many children under the age of 18, or 20 if the child is a full-time student in high school, also plays a factor. There are many different requirements for income, and some states require more or less income in order to be eligible. 

To find out the different income levels and guidelines in the United States, visit this website

Income Guidelines

The TANF program exists to help families whose incomes are not enough to provide for the basic needs of their children.

Depending on the state that you live in, the maximum amount of income will vary for the program. In addition, your available cash, bank accounts, credit and savings will also vary depending on the state that you live in. 

Work Guidelines

If you are on the TANF program, you must be ready to accept any job, no later than two years after beginning the program.

There are exemptions for disabled people and seniors, and children or unmarried teen parents must meet certain schooling requirements to be part of the TANF program as well. Other requirements include:

  • Single parents must work at least 30 hours per week, or if they have a child under the age of six, 20 hours per week. ]
  • Two-parent families must work at least 35 hours per week. If the parents are on the Federal Child Care Assistance program, they must work 55 hours per week. 

If those on TANF do not meet the work requirements, however,  they could have their benefits reduced or terminated.

That being said, if a single parent has a child under the age of six, the state cannot penalize them for not meeting work requirements if the parent is unable to find a stable form of childcare.

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