The federal government created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to help low income and needy families with children. Most of the aid is targeted at households that are living in poverty, or close to it. Short term financial assistance and cash is available to help pay bills. The goal of this program, which some people still refer to as welfare, is to ensure a family can meet their basic household needs. For example, assistance can be provided for housing, rent, energy bills, food, and health care needs such as medications.
However, just as importantly, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program will help individuals gain longer term self sufficiency. So most of the social service agencies that run TANF programs will also help people find a job, attend a wide variety of training classes, and improve their overall employment skills. As a matter of fact, cash assistance will only be paid out from TANF if a client is aggressively looking for a job or attending some form of training. Most states will require that recipients find some form of employment within 24 months, or the benefits may end.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families provides funding for a wide range of expenses and activities. The government has established requirements about participants needing to be actively looking for work and take on personal responsibility for addressing the cause of their hardship. The program also has time limits in place, so the support is temporary for low income families that are receiving cash assistance. Welfare will normally last for at most sixty months.
Many individual states will also offer other benefits to clients. This will include financial aid and social services in combination with TANF. This is done as the main objective is to help low-income families with children gain self-sufficiency. Another goal is to provide other activities that promote two-parent families and resources to reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
Specifically, the primary objectives include ending the dependency of low income parents and families for government assistance and benefits. TANF can help people find a job, increase work skills, attend job preparation, and other forms of financial aid. The government can provide short term cash assistance to needy families with children so that they can ideally live in their own home or the homes of relatives.
The amount provided depends on the state as well as your family size and circumstance. Some states will also factor in the families’ shelter obligation, which would include their monthly rental expenses. However TANF can pay out as much as several hundred dollars per month, and additional funds can be offered depending on family size and number of members of the household.
The program only runs for a certain amount of time. Families that receive TANF and that include an adult in the household will need to meet work participation requirements as well, or the cash assistance will end. They must participate in work related activities or have some form of employment for a specified number of hours per week depending on the age of children as well as the number of work-eligible adults in the household.
Cash assistance will generally be limited to a lifetime total of 48-60 months as an adult. However some states may provide additional TANF assistance for child only cases, which will usually not have a time limit. The program helps low income and working poor families become self-supporting over the mid to long term while allowing children to remain in their own homes. Pregnant women may also receive help, especially if they are unable to work.
While each state may have their own requirements, in general the following apply. Note when speaking to a social worker in your county, they may refer to it as welfare or it may be called a slightly different name.
Citizenship – Applicants need to be either U.S. citizens or qualified non-citizens. It can sometimes help immigrants, depending on where the applicant lives.
Social Security Number - Individuals must be able to provide a Social Security Number for themselves and family members. Or they need to prove that they have applied for one, and they will need to have identification instead.
Child Support Cooperation - The parent or the caretaker of any children in the household will need to fully cooperate with child support enforcement to prove a legal relationship to the applying parent.
Work or Job Training - People must participate in some type of job training or work activities unless they meet an exemption which may be offered from time to time. Many state social service offices and employment centers can provide work activities and services needed to either keep a job or help a beneficiary find employment.
Asset Limits - A family's total household, so called countable assets must be under a certain threshold. This may be close to the poverty level.
Self-sufficiency - Adults who apply for cash assistance from TANF will usually need to sign some type of self-sufficiency contract.
Children - Any children will need to reside with a legal guardian, parent, a legal custodian, or a specified relative.
The contact information above will not only provide information on TANF application sites and phone numbers, but it covers other welfare type benefit programs too. This is the case as many low income families and people living in poverty often qualify for more than one entitlement. So there is usually a benefit for them in learning about all of the resources that are available. For more information on just receiving cash assistance, locate welfare phone numbers for each and every state.
TANF can only provide short term financial assistance for basic needs, so it is temporary. That being said, the primary reason this program was created by the federal government was to get people off of public aid over the mid to long term. So anyone who receives help from this program needs to commit to finding a job. Or if that can’t be done in short order, they need to attend training and really agree to strictly follow a program to get them off of temporary assistance within 60 months. Contact a social service office or a government agency in your state to apply.
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