The federal government offers a wide variety of support opportunities for households in need of assistance. For some, that might sound overwhelming at first, especially if you’re not sure what kind of assistance you can benefit from. Luckily, the government thought of that and created resources to help. The website Benefits.gov can help you learn more information about what government programs are out there. One way to browse through programs is by using a search engine on Benefits.gov called Benefit Finder. If you are a parent with children that depend on you and are struggling financially, one program in particular that can help is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
If you’re seeking information on TANF assistance programs, you’ve come to the right place. The (TANF) program is an essential resource available to individuals who are without work, have limited resources, and more. In this post, we will explain what TANF is and how families can benefit. In addition to that, we will touch on eligibility criteria and work.
Explaining TANF and How Families Can Benefit
(TANF) is a federal program that focuses on helping families with children. Recipients of TANF can benefit from numerous forms of support. This opportunity can provide cash assistance, as well as help with finding work. TANF provides grant funds to states that participate in the program. State governments use these grants to administer the program. The main goal behind the support that TANF offers is to help families become self-sufficient.
Eligibility Criteria for Receiving Assistance
To be eligible for TANF assistance, individuals must meet the criteria determined by their state government. Qualifications usually include income requirements. In addition to that, other requirements can include:
- Citizenship status: Only U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens can qualify for this opportunity.
- Household status: Typically, only families with children that are under 18 years old can qualify.
In addition, states may have other criteria such as work requirements or participation in job training programs. It is also important to note that not all families who meet these requirements can automatically get support. Each state has limited grant funds. Therefore, approved applicants may have to wait before they’re able to start receiving assistance.
Work Participation Rate (WPR)
Part of benefiting from TANF involves helping find and maintain work. For this reason, state governments are required to meet specific Work Participation Rate (WPR) goals. There are consequences that can occur if states don’t meet these goals. Recipients of TANF that refuse to work without having a good reason may lose their assistance for their family.
Defining WPR Goals under TANF
In order to ensure that families getting assistance through TANF are actively working towards a better financial future, they must work in any qualifying way, shape, or form. WPR represents the percentage of TANF recipients who are engaging in work activities. Examples can include paid employment, job training, and community service. WPR is measured using the following two rates:
- All-Family Rate: At least 50% of all families receiving assistance must work 30 hours or more per week.
- Two-Parent Rate: A minimum of 90% of two-parent households are required to work a minimum of 35 hours per week.
As we stated above, there are more work activities that qualify as eligible hours other than just paid work. A law put in place in 1996 recognizes 12 work categories that count as activity hours. Furthermore, how many hours can count towards one activity typically has limits. For example, education or job training may not qualify for full-time hours.
While there is a big focus on recipients of TANF maintaining regular work, there are a few exceptions. Some states have determined circumstances where an applicant can receive TANF benefits, without working. To give an example, in the state of Pennsylvania, a person can be exempt from the work requirements if:
- The applicant is caring for a baby one year or younger
- If they are enrolled in school and under 22 years old
- The applicant is caring for a dependent with a disability
Types of Support Offered by TANF
Cash assistance is just one way that recipients of TANF can benefit. States can also use their grant funds to provide various supportive services to families. These services are intended to help families become financially independent, which is the main purpose of the program. Services TANF can provide families include:
- Childcare Support for Working Parents
- Job Training and Educational Opportunities
Childcare Support for Working Parents
High childcare costs can be a major obstacle for low-income parents that need to work. To combat this issue, the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) works with TANF. Their partnership provides financial assistance to help qualifying families get quality childcare for when they’re working or attending training activities. This support allows parents to focus on working without worrying about their children’s safety.
Job Training and Educational Opportunities
TANF recipients are often required to participate in employment-related activities as part of their eligibility requirements. To assist them in finding stable jobs, states may offer various job training and educational opportunities using TANF funds. Some examples include:
- Trade Educational Programs
- Adult Basic Education (ABE)
- GED Preparation Courses
- Job Readiness Training
By investing in childcare support, education programs, job training opportunities, and more, low-income families have a better chance of becoming financially stable. Applying for assistance is a key move to take in order to receive the necessary support and resources.
Overall families with children that are having a hard time finding work, affording childcare, or other basic necessities, may be able to benefit from TANF. This assistance program is specifically designed to help parents with kids under 18 get back on their feet. Raising kids can be hard enough without the added burden of financial challenges. TANF helps support families in various ways. One way is by helping parents find and maintain work. The program does this by offering educational opportunities, as well as resources for childcare.
If you or a person close to you is experiencing financial hardship and meets the requirements for TANF Assistance, it could be worth looking into as an option. TANF may not be the only government program that can help your situation. Online resources like Benefits.gov can show you more options about what’s available to you. The tool Benefit Finder that you can find on this website can present programs that may be right for your situation.