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Office on Disability

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Question:  What is TANF? 

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a block grant created by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, as part of a federal effort to “end welfare as we know it.”  The TANF block grant replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, which had provided cash welfare to poor families with children since 1935.

According to the Administration of Children and Families (ACF), there were 2,032,157 families receiving TANF cash benefits in June 2003, the most recent month for which data are available. 

TANF covers benefits, administrative expenses, and services targeted to needy families.

Under TANF, states, territories, and tribes each receive a block grant allocation, and states must maintain a historical level of state spending known as maintenance of effort. The basic block grant provides states and tribes $16.5 billion in federal funds each year.

The purposes are: 1) assisting needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes 2) reducing dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage 3) preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancies 4) and encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

Highlights of TANF:

  • Work requirements
  •  Work activities
  •  A five year time limit
  •  State maintenance of efforts requirements
  •  Program funding

For TANF Programs by State/Tribe go to the URL below:

For more information, please contact the Office on Disability at