What Is The TANF Program

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is federally funded but is administrated by each state. TANF is a financial assistance program for low income families that have children and for pregnant women in their last three months of pregnancy. The program provides temporary financial assistance while at the same time helps find TANF recipients find jobs that will allow them to support themselves.

In 1996 the TANF program replaced the old welfare programs which included the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. Today TANF provides grants on a yearly basis to all U.S. states, tribal governments and territories. The funds from these grants help pay for benefits and services distributed by the states to assist needy families.

In order to continue to receive the annual TANF grants each state must show that they are operating their TANF program by assisting needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes, reduce the dependency of parents being needy by assisting in job preparation as well as work and marriage, prevent out of wedlock pregnancies and encourage the formation and maintenance of two parent families.

The TANF program is intended to provide temporary financial assistance while the TANF recipients seek employment that will allow them to fully support themselves and their families. Because of this, families who has received TANF benefits from this federally funded program for a total of five years, or less depending on the state guidelines, become ineligible for cash aid under the TANF program. States do have the option of extending federal benefits beyond 5 year limit and could also choose to provide extended assistance to families using state specific funds or other federal Social Services Block Grant funds available to the state.

Mainly though the limit to receive TANF benefits usually is a maximum of 5 years (or 60 months). As a single parent receiving TANF, you would be required to participate in qualified work activities for a minimum of 30 hours per week. In most cases, you would be expected to obtain employment immediately upon receiving assistance. Recipients of these benefits must be employed within 2 years. One of the primary goals of TANF was to increase work among welfare recipients as well as reducing out-of-wedlock births and increasing rates and stability of marriages.