What Americans Need to Know about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program

(TheConservativeTimes.org) – The current tough economic times have left some American households unable to afford basic needs. According to research by the Guardian, one in ten U.S. households struggled to feed their family within the last year.

What’s worse, the majority of food-insecure households are families with children. Luckily, the government has ramped up efforts to offer relief to low-income households in the U.S. through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In this post, we explain what the TANF program is, who qualifies for it, and how to apply.

What is the TANF Program?

TANF is a federal-funded limited public welfare program offered to low-income and needy families by states, the District of Columbia (D.C.), and U.S. territories such as the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

Apart from these, federally recognized Alaska Native organizations and American Indian tribes also offer TANF via the tribal TANF program. According to the Office of Family Assistance, the total amount of money allocated by the government to fund the TANF program in states is approximately $16.5 billion yearly.

What Does the TANF Program Provide?

States use TANF resources to address one or more of four broad issues affecting low-income families around the country. The following are the purposes of TANF as stipulated in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) that created TANF:

  • Assisting needy facilities for children to be taken care of in their own homes or relative homes
  • Ending the dependence of needy parents on government benefits through promoting work, marriage, and job preparation
  • Preventing and reducing the incidences of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establishing numerical goals to prevent and reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies
  • Encouraging the formation and sustenance of two-parent families

Who Qualifies for the TANF Program?

Although the federal government sponsors the TANF program in various states, each state decides how to run its program. As such, the flexibility of qualification rules and eligibility benefits varies depending on a state’s policies.

However, you must generally be a U.S. citizen, a resident of the state where you apply for the TANF program, or a legal or qualified alien to qualify. You must also be underemployed or unemployed and earn a meager income and satisfy one of the following criteria:

  • Have a child under 18 years
  • Be pregnant
  • Be 18 years or younger, and the household head

Again, these qualifications vary. Confirm your state’s qualification requirements from a TANF agency in your area to see if you qualify.

How to Apply for the TANF Program

You can apply for the TANF program online by visiting the Help for Families page to get your state’s TANF application information. Remember, the only way to know if you qualify for TANF is by applying.

Key Takeaways

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is a federally funded program run by states. The program aims to assist needy families, end dependency on government benefits, prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies and promote more two-parent families in the U.S.

Furthermore, states determine the qualification requirements of a TANF program so requirements can vary based on your jurisdiction. However, standard qualification requirements for TANF include being a U.S. citizen, a resident of the state you’re applying to, and a legal or qualified alien.

Lastly, you can apply for your state’s TANF program online or visit the Help for Families to get information on your state’s TANF application process. If you’re among those who qualify for the TANF through the tribal program, the TANF program is administered through the Office of Family Assistance (OFA). It’s the entity responsible for allocating TANF funds to the tribal TANF program at the federal level.

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