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Program Description

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program helps foster economic security and stability for low-income families with children. It does this for these families by funding monthly cash assistance payments. It also provides a wide range of services that address the following four broad program purposes:

  • Provide assistance to needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes.
  • Reduce the parents’ dependency 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.

General Program Requirements

To qualify, a family must be needy as defined by the state. It must also consist of, at a minimum, a parent or relative caregiver living with a child (or a pregnant woman in her third trimester).

You and your qualified child must also be one of the following:

  • U.S. citizen or
  • Non-citizen national or qualified alien who has lived in the U.S. for at least five years.

Each states sets the following:

  • The criteria you must meet to get benefits and services.
  • The benefits and services it will provide.

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

    Application Process

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

    Last Updated: 07/02/2019