Chapter 7: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Introduction and Overview

Introduction

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant provides grants to states, Indian tribes, and territories for a wide range of benefits, services, and activities that address economic disadvantage. TANF is best known for funding state cash welfare programs for low-income families with children.  It was created in the 1996 welfare reform law (The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, P.L. 104-193), replacing the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) cash welfare program and several related programs.  However, in FY2013, states reported that cash welfare represented only 28% of state and federal spending in the TANF program.  TANF funds a wide range of activities that seek to both ameliorate the effects and address the root causes of child poverty.  In addition to state block grants, TANF includes competitive grants to fund healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood initiatives.

Federal TANF law is Title IV-A of the Social Security Act.  At the federal level, TANF is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  However, benefits and services are provided by the states, territories, and tribes, which have broad flexibility in how to administer their programs.  TANF programs operate in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.  American Samoa is eligible to operate a TANF program, but has not opted to do so.

Chapter Overview

This chapter of the Green Book includes Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports detailing:

  • The financing and federal rules regarding the TANF block grant;
  • The characteristics of families and recipients receiving TANF cash assistance;
  • TANF cash assistance financial eligibility thresholds and benefit amounts; and
  • TANF work participation requirements and standards.

Tables and Figures included in those CRS reports are identified in a following section.  In addition, a section of Additional Tables and Figures includes tables on TANF expenditures and unspent grant funds.  The chapter concludes with a Legislative History of TANF and Links to Additional Resources, which include a set of links to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) web sites and research organizations for additional information about TANF.

 This page was prepared September 15, 2014 for the 2014 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

The House Ways and Means Committee is making available selected reports by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) for inclusion in its 2014 Green Book website.  CRS works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to Committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation.

RL32748: The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Primer on TANF Financing and Federal Requirements

R43634: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Eligibility and Benefit Amounts in State TANF Cash Assistance Programs

R43187: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Size and Characteristics of the Cash Assistance Caseload

R42767: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Welfare-to-Work Revisited

This page was prepared on September 3, 2014, for the 2014 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Tables and Figures in CRS Reports

The following tables and figures related to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) can be found in the CRS reports included in this Green Book chapter.

RL32748: The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Primer on TANF Financing and Federal Requirements

Table 1. Federal TANF Funds: FY2006-FY2014

Table 2. TANF Basic Block Grant to the States

Table 3. Federal TANF and State MOE Funding Levels

Table 4. Summary of Rules for the Use of Federal TANF and State MOE Funds

Table 5. Summary of TANF Requirements that Apply to Recipients of Assistance, by Funding Source of the Benefit

Table 6. Countable TANF Work Activities and Their Definitions

R43634: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Eligibility and Benefit Amounts in State TANF Cash Assistance Programs

Table 1. State TANF Cash Assistance Program Vehicles Disregards from Asset Limits for New Applicant Families, July 2012

Table A-1. Maximum Monthly Earnings an Applicant Family Comprising a Single Parent Caring for Two Children May Have to Gain Eligibility for TANF Cash Assistance: July 2012

Table A-2. Maximum Monthly Earnings a Single Parent Caring for Two Children May Have for Applicants or for Recipients to Retain Eligibility for TANF Cash Assistance, July 2012

Table A-3. Maximum Monthly TANF Cash Assistance Benefit for a Single Parent Caring for Two Children, July 2012

Table A-4. Maximum Monthly TANF Cash Assistance Benefits Paid to a Family Headed by a Single Parent, By Family Size, July 2012

Table A-5. Maximum Combined TANF and SNAP Benefit for a Single Parent Caring for Two Children, July 2012

Table A-6. Maximum Monthly AFDC/TANF Cash Assistance Benefits for a Single Parent Caring for Two Children, July of Selected Years

Table A-7. Maximum Monthly AFDC/TANF Cash Assistance Benefit for a Single Parent Caring for Two Children in Constant July 2012 Dollars

Table A-8. Maximum Monthly AFDC/TANF Cash Assistance Benefit for a Single Parent Caring for Two Children, as a Percent of the Federal Poverty Level, July of Selected Years

Figure 1. Maximum Monthly Earnings An Applicant Family May Have and Be Eligible for TANF Cash Assistance: Single Parent Caring for Two Children: July 2012 

Figure 2. State TANF Cash Assistance Program Asset Limits for New Applicant Single Parents Caring for Two Children, July 2012

Figure 3. TANF Maximum Monthly Benefits for a Single Parent Caring for Two Children, by State, July 2012

Figure 4. Combined TANF Cash Assistance and SNAP Benefit, Single Parent Caring for Two Children: July 2012

Figure 5. AFDC/TANF Maximum Benefits for a Family of Three in the Median State, July of Selected Years 1981-2012

Figure 6. Combined Cash Assistance and Food Assistance for a Family of Three: July 1981, July 1996, and July 2012

R43187: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Size and Characteristics of the Cash Assistance Caseload

Table 1. Summary Characteristics of AFDC/TANF Cash Assistance Families: Selected Years FY1988 to FY2011

Table 2. Families Receiving TANF Cash Assistance by Family Category and Number of Child Recipients: FY2011

Table 3. Families Receiving TANF Cash Assistance by Family Category and Age of Youngest Child: FY2011

Table 4. TANF Child Recipients: by Family Category and Race/Ethnicity: FY2011

Table A-1. Families Receiving Cash Assistance by Family Category: Selected Years, FY1988 to FY2011

Table A-2. TANF Cash Assistance Caseload By Family Category and State: FY2011

Table A-3. Ratio of TANF Child Recipients to All Children and Poor Children by Race/Ethnicity, Selected Years

Figure 1. Number of Families Receiving AFDC/TANF Cash Assistance: 1959-2013

Figure 2. Families Receiving AFDC/TANF Cash Assistance, By Category, Selected Years FY1988 to FY2011

R42767: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Welfare-to-Work Revisited

Table 1. Summary Characteristics of Work-Eligible Individuals: FY2011

Table 2. TANF Work-Eligible Individuals Employed or Participating in a Work or Job Preparation Activity: by Characteristic, FY2011

Table 3. Percentage of Cash Assistance Adults and Teen Parents Employed or Engaged in a Work or Job Preparation Activity, FY2011

Table 4. TANF Families Sanctioned for Work, Educational, or Activity Requirements: FY2001-FY2011

Table 5. TANF Assistance Families Included and Not Included in the TANF Work Participation Rate, FY2011

Table 6. Countable TANF Work Activities and Their Definitions

Table 7. TANF Hours Requirements for the All-Family Rate and the Two-Parent Family Rate (Excludes Special Rule for Teen Parents), by Family Type

Table 8. TANF Work Participation Among Teen Parents Included in the Participation Rate Without a High School Diploma, by Age, FY2011

Table 9. TANF “Core” and “Supplemental” Work Activities

Table 10. Effective TANF Work Participation Standards for All Families: FY2002‑FY2011

Table 11. Employment Status of Young Adults (Aged 20 to 24), Selected Years 1994‑2011

Table 12. Enrollment in Educational Programs of Young Adults (Aged 20 to 24), Selected Years 1994-2010

Table A-1. Effective TANF Work Participation Standards for All Families by State: FY2002-FY2011

Table A-2. TANF Work Participation Rates by State: Official Rates (Including Grandfathered Waivers), FY2002-FY2011

Table A-3. TANF Work Participation Rates for All Families Excluding the Effects of Grandfathered Waivers by State: FY2002‑FY2011

Table A-4. TANF Effective Work Participation Standards and Work Participation Rates: FY2011

Table A-5. TANF Families Receiving Assistance, by Type of Family and State: FY2011

Table A-6. TANF Families Receiving Assistance, by Work Participation Rate Status and State: FY2011

Table A-7. TANF Families Included in the Work Participation Rate, by Family Type and State, FY2011

Table A-8. TANF Sanctions and Sanction Rates by State: FY2011

Figure 1. TANF Assistance Families, by Family Type, FY2011

Figure 2. Work Participation of TANF Work-Eligible Individuals: FY2011

Figure 3. TANF Effective (After-Credit) Work Participation Standards for FY2011

Figure 4. TANF Assistance Families Included and Not Included in the Work Participation Rate: FY2011

Figure 5. Percentage of TANF Work-Eligible Individuals Included in the Participation Rate in TANF Work Activities: FY2011

Figure 6. TANF Families Included in the Work Participation Rate, by Family Type, FY2011

Figure 7. Distribution of TANF Single Parent Families Included in the TANF Work Participation Rate by Hours of Participation in Activities and by Presence of a Child Under Age 6 in the Family, FY2011

Figure 8. Distribution of TANF Two-Parent Families Included in the TANF Work Participation Rate by Hours of Participation in Activities, FY2011

Figure 9. Percentage of TANF Work-Eligible Individuals Included in the Work Participation Rate Who Participated in Work- and Education-Related Activities, FY2011

Figure 10. TANF Effective Work Participation Standards and Work Participation Rates, by State, FY2011

Figure 11. National Average TANF Work Participation Rate for All Families, FY2002‑FY2011

This page was prepared on September 3, 2014, for the 2014 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.

Additional Tables and Figures Related to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

TANF Funding, Expenditures, and Unspent TANF Balances 

The following figure and tables provide information on how states have used their TANF funds. They provide information for or (in the case of historical tables) through Fiscal Year 2013.

Figure 7-1. Federal TANF and State MOE Funds Used in FY2013 by Major Benefit and Service Category

Table 7-1. Value of the State Family Assistance Grant: FY1997-FY2013

Table 7-2. Federal and State Expenditures and Transfers from TANF and Predecessor Programs: FY1987-FY2013

Table 7-3. Federal and State Expenditures on Cash Assistance Under Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and TANF: FY1987-FY2013

Table 7-4. Federal TANF and MOE Child Care Expenditures and Transfers: FY1997-FY2013

Table 7-5. Use of FY2013 TANF and MOE Funds by Category and State

Table 7-6. Use of FY2013 TANF and MOE Funds by Category and State as a Percent of Total Federal TANF and State MOE Funding

Table 7-7. Unspent TANF Grants: End of FY1997 Through End of FY2013

Table 7-8. Unspent TANF Funds at the End of FY2013 by State

The TANF Cash Assistance Caseload

The following figure and tables provide information on the cash assistance caseload under TANF and its predecessor program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).

Figure 7-2. Number of Families Receiving Cash Assistance: 1959-2013

Table 7-9. Trends in the Cash Assistance Caseload: 1961-2013

Table 7-10. TANF Cash Assistance Families by Type: 2000-2013

Table 7-11. Child Recipients of Cash Assistance As a Percent of the Number of Children in Poverty, by State: Selected Years 1969 to 2012

This page was prepared on September 3, 2014, for the 2014 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book. 

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Legislative History

The following provides a legislative history of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) during the 113th Congress. For prior legislative history, please see the 2012 Green Book.

113th Congress

P.L. 113-6, Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013, extended TANF funding through September 30, 2013.  Signed into law March 26, 2013.

P.L. 113-46, Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014, extended TANF funding through January 15, 2014.  Signed into law October 17, 2013.  [Note: The authorization for the TANF program expired on October 1, 2013 as part of the partial Federal government “shutdown,” and was reauthorized by P.L. 113-46 on October 17, 2013]

P.L. 113-73, Making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2014, extended TANF funding through January 18, 2014.  Signed into law January 15, 2014.

P.L. 113-76, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, extended TANF funding through September 30, 2014.  Signed into law January 17, 2014.

This page was prepared on September 2, 2014 for the 2014 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Links to Additional Resources

Federal TANF Law (Note: Title IV-A, Sections 401-419 comprise TANF).

Department of Health and Human Services Sites

Office of Family Assistance (OFA) of the Administration for Children and Families.  The office administers TANF, and its site includes policy documents and program data.

Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) of the Administration for Children and Families.  This office funds research related to programs administered within the Administration for Children and Families.  It has a site devoted to research on welfare and self-sufficiency issues.

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE).  This office also funds research projects and maintains a web page on TANF issues.

The Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse (SSRC).  This website, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, is designed to collect, catalogue and disseminate quality research and resources relevant to researchers and professionals invested in the self-sufficiency of low-income families and individuals.

Nongovernment Sources

MDRC has a long history of evaluating social programs, particularly welfare-to-work initiatives. 

Mathematica Policy Research also has a long history of program evaluations, including welfare-to-work programs.

The Urban Institute produces studies on the low-income population, including those receiving cash assistance.  It is also the home of the Welfare Rules Database.

This page was prepared on August 21, 2014 for the 2014 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.