Tennessee Families First TANF cash assistance program.

Time limited, temporary cash assistance programs are available in Tennessee. The program, known as Families First, provide money to low income households as well as families in poverty to the pay bills along with job placement, free child care vouchers, credit counseling, and other social services that stress personal responsibility.

While Families First will provide cash to a very low-income family or those living in poverty (provided they have one or more children), the main goal is to help the residents become self-sufficient. So, the cash aid can help pay a wide variety of bills, including rent, housing, day care costs, transportation (gasoline and repairs), food, medical, and more. Another focus of TANF in Tennessee is on job related costs, including uniforms or tools.

Find how to for TANF Cash aid in Tennessee below. In general, applications can be done online or at a Family Assistance Service Center. There is also a tool free number that residents can dial as well both to apply as well as to get any questions they may have answered.

In general, a family of three is given about $200 per month. The average monthly payment will be about $185 month, but it does depend on several factors including household size, the applicant’s income, and other criteria. Cash is provided to the household each month on an EBT type card, or it can be transferred to a debit card.

Resources provided to low income families by TANF cash assistance in Tennessee

Some of the financial aid is mandated by the federal government (as it is partly federal government funded from welfare), and part of the assistance is determined by the state of Tennessee. Both the state as well as federal government mandate that TANF cash assistance programs stress personal responsibility as well as growth.





  • Tennessee Families First Personal Responsibility Plan (PRP) – this includes immunizations and health care for the children, job training or employment of 30 hours per week, kids and school
  • Cash grants – As noted, the money can pay many different bills. It also coordinates free transportation in Tennessee, educational programs, vouchers to pay for child care, and employment as well as career counseling.
  • Information and applications to other benefits – Welfare type programs in Tennessee also extend to child care, SNAP food stamps, Medicaid, and even low income section 8 housing vouchers. Find more information on welfare programs.
  • Case Managers Family Service centers – They offer the client advice on any financial emergency they may be facing, and partner together to come up with solutions. This is done in addition to the free cash paid out to households that qualify from Families First.

While it is called Families First cash assistance, the recipients are not provided actual stashes of dollar bills. Instead the funds are given to them on an EBT or Benefit Security Card. The card is used to help pay bills, rent, buy medications, and much more. It can’t be used for non-critical living expenses, such as tobacco, gambling, alcohol, or bills that are not important to stabilizing a family.

To apply for cash assistance as well as the personal responsibility plan, applications are accepted by Family Service centers, which are part of the Tennessee DHS - Department of Human Service. Call 1-866-311-4287 to speak to a customer service representative.




By Jon McNamara

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