How to Apply for the Temporary Cash Assistance for the Poor Program (TANF)

Posted on Apr 30 2016 - 10:34am by admin

If you are a low income single mother, you should definitely apply for TANF as it offers a bundle of benefits to you and your children. TANF is a federal program that is administered on a state level and has helped over 1.6 million families. This article will tell you everything you need to know about TANF.

The purpose of the TANF program is to keep single parents or families on their feet by offering money to help with basic expenses while they look for better employment. The program aims to achieve what they call self-sufficiency, meaning families won’t longer need TANF benefits after they have received help and better employment.

TANF offers financial relief payments to the low income single parents and families throughout the United States. The payments are received onto a card called an Electronic Benefits Transfer Card that has funds loaded onto it. Simply swipe the card when paying for necessities for yourself, and your children such as food and clothes.

Furthermore, one of the great benefits for TANF especially if you are a single parent is the child care assistance that is offered. The assistance will help you pay for child care which can be a huge benefit. The TANF childcare works in collaboration with your state’s child care program. TANF will pay a portion of your child care bill with you paying the remaining portion as a co-payment.


The eligibility of this program is determined by the combined income of the household in correlation with the number of dependents living in the household. Similarly, to the rental assistance program, this program is operated by the state in which the family lives in. Each state has their own set of eligibility requirements regarding the benefit levels, as well as the length of the payments. However, most states do require that families applying have an asset limit of $2000 or less. There is a federal law stating the longest a family can receive the assistance is for 5 years, however after that time period you can apply for an extension of cash assistance.

Requirements: To receive the cash assistance there are employment requirements that must be adhered to. It is required to work for an average of 30 hours per week. If you are not working you must be enrolled in school or job training.

Single mothers have more flexibility with employment, as single mothers must work an average of 20 hours per week if they have any children under the age of 6. However, if you have children under the age of 6 and cannot find adequate child care you cannot be penalized for not meeting the working requirements.

To meet the job requirements, you must do at least one of the following:

  • have unsubsidized or subsidized employment
  • receive on the job training
  • participate in community service
  • receive up to 12 months of vocational training
  • provide child care services to people participating in community service

How Much Can You Get From TANF?

This varies greatly depending on the state with payments ranging from approximately $170 all the way up to $925. The payments depend on the size of the family and which state you are in. Using an average of all 52 states combined, the amount the average payment equates to is approximately $500.

How to Apply for TANF

Application varies by the state however it is administered by the Office of Family Assistance. Searching Temporary Cash Assistance for The Poor(TANF) along with your state on the internet should bring up the contact information. You can also visit the TANF Website and select your state to begin.