Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is a federally funded grant program that provides states the ability to create and administer their own assistance programs for families in needs. The TANF program replaces the previously known program known as welfare and allows states to offer a wide range of social services.

One major change in TANF vs the old welfare program is that TANF recipients are required to participate in work activities in order to receive TANF benefits. What this means is, any parent receiving TANF benefits are required to be employed in some capacity, be working towards finding a job, or taking classes that are aimed to increase their long-term employability.

If you are eligible for this program, then you may also be eligible for others including WIC (Woman, Infants, and Children) and SNAP benefits (Formerly known as food stamps), which are used to purchase groceries. Overall, the primary goal of the TANF program is to provide families in need with a combination of both work opportunities and financial assistance so they can eventually become independent. These State TANF programs are designed to accomplish four goals:

  • To provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives
  • To end the dependency of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage
  • To prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establish annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies and
  • To encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families

Applying for TANF benefits

The program is administered by the Office of Family Assistance. Each state has its own local TANF office and the name of the program can differ from state to state along with the application process. To see more information about TANF in your state, select the state you live in below. To find out what the process is in obtaining TANF in your state, view the page, how to apply for TANF in your state.