Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /var/www/vhosts/dev.nccp.org/httpdocs/sps_data/nccp_profile.php on line 432 NCCP | Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Cash Assistance
Since you are looking at this site with an older browser, you will not be able to see any graphics or formatting. For better results, please upgrade your browser.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Cash Assistance


» View national participant and spending data

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance provides monthly cash benefits to very low-income families based on eligibility standards set by the states. Unlike its predecessor, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), TANF is not an entitlement program, meaning eligible families are not guaranteed benefits. One of the main goals of TANF is to transition recipients to employment, so that cash benefits are no longer necessary. Recipient families must fulfill ongoing work requirements, and there is a time limit on benefits.

The federal government sets basic rules for administering TANF cash assistance, but states have responsibility for developing their programs. Income eligibility limits and benefit levels vary widely. More than one-third of the states have an income limit of less than 50 percent of the federal poverty level, while in other states, families with earnings above 100 percent of the federal poverty level may qualify for benefits. Similarly, maximum benefit levels vary from less than $200 to nearly $1,000 per month for a single-parent family of three.

Ongoing requirements for TANF recipients also differ by state. Under federal rules, a portion of a state’s caseload must meet federal work criteria, or the state will lose some of its federal funding. The 2006 TANF reauthorization tightened federal rules in this area, but states continue to have flexibility in setting work requirements for recipients. In addition, the federal government has established a lifetime benefit limit of five years for most recipients, but states can establish shorter time limits or use state funds to extend the limit.

TANF cash assistance is funded through a combination of state and federal funds. The federal TANF block grant was created with the passage of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act that eliminated AFDC, the long-standing federal cash assistance program. Cash assistance is one of many supports for low-income families financed through this grant. TANF was reauthorized in February 2006 as part of the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act.

Search a database of research on welfare reform.

National Participant & Spending Data

Participants

Number of recipients

Number of recipients (families)11.8 million families (FY 2006)
Number of recipients (children)23.2 million children (FY 2006)
Number of recipients (adults)21.0 million adults (FY 2006)

Percent of caseload that is child-only

Percent of caseload that is child-only145% (FY 2006)

Spending

Total spending

Total spending (state and federal)3$9.9 billion (FY 2006)

Data Notes and Sources

Last Updated: November 30, -0001

  1. Figure reflects average monthly caseload.
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Administration for Children and Families, "Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Average Monthly Number of Families, FY 2006," http://www.acf.hhs.gov (accessed September 21, 2007).
  2. Figure reflects average monthly caseload.
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Administration for Children and Families, "Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Average Monthly Number of Recipients, Adults and Children, FY 2006," http://www.acf.hhs.gov (accessed September 21, 2007).
  3. Figure reflects expenditures on "basic assistance" only; spending on child care, transportation, training, and other benefits not included. Basic assistance is designed to meet on-going, basic needs and is provided primarily in the form of cash, but may include other forms, such as vouchers.
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Administration for Children and Families, "TANF Financial Data: Table F - Combined Spending of Federal and States Funds Expended in FY 2006," http://www.acf.hhs.gov (accessed September 20, 2007).