Program Description

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program helps needy families become self-sufficient. States are given block grants to design and run programs that fulfill one of the four purposes of TANF:

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

General Program Requirements

To qualify, you must either be pregnant or responsible for a child under age 19.
You and your qualified child must be one of the following:

  • U.S. citizen,
  • Non-citizen national, or
  • Qualified alien.

You must also be in one of the categories below:

  • Low income and under-employed (working for very low wages), or
  • Unemployed or about to become unemployed.

Check with the TANF agency in your area to learn if you qualify.

  • Each state decides the benefits it provides.
  • Each state sets the criteria you must meet to get benefits and services.

Application Process

Visit the Help for Families page to get application information for your state, territory, or tribe.

Last Updated: 02/06/2018