What is TANF?

TANF stands for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

The TANF program, which is time limited, assists families with children when the parents or other responsible relatives cannot provide for the family's basic needs. The Federal government provides grants to States to run the TANF program. These State TANF programs are designed to accomplish four goals:

  1. to provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives;
  2. to end the dependency of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage;
  3. 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
  4. to encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

States have broad flexibility to carry out their programs. The States, not the Federal government, decide on the design of the program, the type and amount of assistance payments, the range of other services to be provided, and the rules for determining who is eligible for benefits.

See: Help for Families 
To locate the nearest State or Tribal TANF program office, select your state from the drop-down list.

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