Find TANF Help in Your State

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Provides Supports and Services

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Each state has its own Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This federally funded grant program provides block grants to states to replace traditional "welfare" and provide food stamps for families who need assistance.

TANF was created in 1996 during the Clinton administration. The federal program offers individuals a lifetime maximum of 60 months of benefits, but some states provide only short-term assistance.

Once an individual or family is receiving TANF benefits, recipients must look for and find a paying job within two years.

Who Is Eligible for TANF?

TANF benefits may be provided to families in need, but the specific definition of "in need" varies from state to state. Legal immigrants to the United States may be eligible for TANF after they have been in the country for five years. Illegal immigrants are not eligible.

It is important to know that, except in rare situations, TANF provides services only to families with children. In some cases, adults receiving support through TANF may hit their limits while children in the family continue to receive funding. In some situations, TANF assistance may be denied even to families that are eligible.

What Services and Supports Do TANF Provide?

According to its website, the four purposes of the TANF program are to:

  • Provide assistance to needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes
  • Reduce the dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage
  • Prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies
  • Encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families

Depending upon your state, TANF may provide one or more of a variety of services and supports.

For example, you may receive:

  • Wage supplements if you are poor but working 30+ hours per week
  • Child care
  • Education or job training
  • Help with transportation costs

Find TANF Details for Your State

While the federal program is called TANF, programs in individual states may use different names. Below, you'll find the name of each state's program, along with a link to the corresponding website and a contact phone number.