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What is the origin of TANF and how is it administered?

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a block-grant program the began with The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 ("welfare reform"). It is designed to be part of the national safety net, providing block grants to states, territories and tribes for services, benefits and administrative costs.

TANF replaced Aid to Families with Dependant Children (AFDC) in 1996, removing entitlement from the program with the stated purpose of overcoming “welfare dependency” and increasing independence.

Stated objectives of the TANF Program include:

  • Provide support for low-income families for care of children in their homes
  • Limit welfare dependence by promoting employment and marriage
  • Strengthen the formation of stable two-parent families
  • Decrease the quantity of out-of-wedlock pregnancies

Key uses of funds include income assistance, child care assistance, job training, transportation assistance and other services.