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 FY2011, states reported that cash welfare represented only 29% 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.
This chapter of the Green Book includes Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports detailing
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 cash assistance caseload, characteristics of the cash assistance caseload, and TANF cash assistance benefits. 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 on October 15, 2012 for the 2012 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.
The House Ways and Means Committee is making available selected reports by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) for inclusion in its 2012 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.
This page was prepared on October 15, 2012, for the 2012 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.
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.
Table 1. Federal TANF Funds: FY2006-FY2013
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
Figure 1. Types of Families Receiving TANF Assistance, FY2009
Figure 2. Work Participation of TANF Work-Eligible Individuals: FY2009
Figure 3. Families Receiving TANF Assistance, FY2009
Figure 4. Percentage of TANF Work-Eligible Individuals in Families Included in the Participation Rate in TANF Work Activities: FY2009
Figure 5. TANF Families Included in the Work Participation Rate, by Family Type
Figure 6. Hours of Participation in TANF Work Activities for Single-Parent Families Included in the Participation Rate, By Family Type, FY2009
Figure 7. Hours of Participation in TANF Activities by Two-Parent Families Included in the Participation Rate Calculation, FY2009
Figure 8. Percentage of Individuals Included in the Work Participation Rate Who Participated in Work- and Education-Related Activities,
Figure 9. National Average TANF Work Participation Rate: for All Families FY2002-FY2009
Figure 10. Most Severe Sanction Policy for Noncompliance with Work Requirements for Single-Parent Family Adults, 1996-2009 (July), By Number of States (including the District of Columbia)
Figure 11. TANF Job Entry and Work Participation Rates: FY2001-FY2010
Figure 12. TANF Job Entry Rate and the Unemployment Rate: FY2001-FY2010
Table 1. Summary Characteristics of Work-Eligible Individuals: FY2009
Table 2. TANF Work-Eligible Individuals Employed or Participating in a Work or Job Preparation Activity: by Characteristic, FY2009
Table 3. Percentage of Cash Assistance Adults and Teen Parents Employed or Engaged in a Work or Job Preparation Activity,
Table 4. TANF Effective Work Participation Standards and Work Participation Rates: FY2009
Table 5. TANF Families Receiving Assistance by Status Relating to the TANF Work Participation Rate: FY2009
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 Without a High School Diploma, by Age, FY2009
Table 9. TANF “Core” and “Supplemental” Work Activities
Table 10. Effective TANF Work Participation Standards for All Families: FY2002-FY2009
Table 11. Sanctions for Work, Educational, or Activity Requirements: FY2001-FY2009
Table 12. Employment Status of Young Adults (Aged 20 to 24), Selected Years 1994-2011
Table 13. 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-FY2009
Table A-2. TANF Work Participation Rates by State: Official Rates (Including Grandfathered Waivers): FY2002-FY2009
Table A-3. TANF Work Participation Rates for All Families Excluding the Effect of Grandfathered Waivers by State: FY2002-FY2009
Table A-4. TANF Families Receiving Assistance, by Type of Family and State: FY2009
Table A-5. TANF Families Receiving Assistance, by Work Participation Rate Status and State: FY2009
Table A-6. TANF Families Included in the Work Participation Rate, by Family Type and State, FY2009
Table A-7. TANF Sanctions and Sanction Rates by State: FY2009
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 2011.
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).
The following tables provide information on the characteristics of the cash assistance caseload under TANF in FY2009, often comparing the characteristics of the cash assistance caseload in FY2009 with earlier years under AFDC. Additional state-by-state detail on the characteristics of families and persons receiving TANF cash assistance can be found on the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance web site referenced in the Links to Additional Resources section of this chapter.
The following tables provide cash assistance benefit amounts by state. Additional information on the rules that apply in cash assistance programs (e.g. asset limits, earnings limits, earnings disregards, and sanction policy) can be found in the Urban Institute’s Welfare Rules Database on the Urban Institute’s web site, referenced in the Links to Additional Resources section of this chapter.
The following provides a legislative history of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) through September 2012:
P.L. 104-193, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, established the block grant of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Appropriated funds for the block grant through FY2002. Signed into law August 22, 1996.
P.L. 105-33, the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, raised the cap limiting the counting of vocational educational training and teen parents engaged in education from 20 percent of those considered engaged in work to 30 percent of those considered engaged in work, and temporarily removed from that cap teen parents through FY1999; set the maximum allowable TANF transfer to Title XX social services at 10 percent of the block grant (rather than one-third of total transfers); and made technical corrections to P.L. 104-193. P.L. 105-33 also established the $3 billion over two-years (FY1998 and FY1999) Welfare-to-Work (WTW) grant program within TANF, but administered by the Department of Labor at the Federal level, with local administration by State workforce investment boards and competitive grantees. Signed into law August 5, 1997.
P.L. 105-89, the Adoption and Safe Families Act, reduced the contingency fund appropriation by $40 million. Signed into law November 19, 1997.
P.L. 105-220, the Transportation Act for the 21st Century, permitted the use of Federal TANF funds to be used as matching funds for reverse commuter grants.
P.L. 106-113, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2000, broadened eligibility for recipients to be served by the WTW grant program and added limited authority for vocational educational or job training to be WTW activities. Signed into law November 29, 1999.
P.L. 106-554, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2001, gave grantees two more years to spend WTW grant funds (a total of five years from the date of the grant award).
P.L. 107-147, the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act, extended supplemental grants and contingency funds, both of which had expired on September 30, 2001, through FY2002. (Supplemental grants were extended at FY2001 levels). Singed into law March 9, 2002.
P.L. 107-229 extended TANF basic grants, supplemental grants, bonus funds, contingency funds, and other related programs through December 20, 2002. Signed into law September 30, 2002. Other “temporary extensions” of TANF grants were made in: P.L. 107-294, through March 30, 2003 (November 22, 2002); P.L. 108-7, through June 30, 2003 (February 20, 2003); P.L. 108-40, through September 30, 2003 (June 30, 2003); P.L. 108-89, through March 31, 2004 (October 1, 2003); P.L. 108-210, through June 30, 2004 (March 31, 2004); P.L. 108-262, through September 30, 2004 (June 30, 2004); P.L. 108-308, through March 31, 2005 (September 30, 2004); P.L. 109-4, through June 30, 2005 (March 25, 2005); and P.L. 109-19, through September 30, 2005 (July 1, 2005).
P.L. 108-199 rescinded all remaining unspent WTW formula grant funds, effectively ending the WTW grant program. Signed into law January 23, 2004.
P.L. 109-68 provided extra funding to help States provide benefits to families affected by Hurricane Katrina, allowing States to draw upon contingency funds to assist those displaced by the hurricane; allowing directly affected States to receive funds from the loan fund, with repayment of the loan forgiven; and suspending penalties for failure to meet certain requirements for States directly affected by the hurricane. Also, temporarily extended TANF grants through December 30, 2005. Signed into law September 21, 2005.
P.L. 109-161 extended TANF grants through March 30, 2006. Signed into law December 30, 2005.
P.L. 109-171, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, extended most TANF grants through FY2010 (supplemental grants expire at the end of FY2008); eliminated TANF bonus funds; established competitive grants within TANF for healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood initiatives; revised the caseload reduction credit; and required HHS to issue regulations to develop definitions for the statutory activities that count toward the TANF work participation standards as well as verify work and participation in activities. February 8, 2006.
P.L. 110-275 included an extension of TANF supplemental grants through the end of FY2009. Signed into law July 15, 2008.
P.L. 111-5, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, established a $5 billion Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) to reimburse states for increased costs associated with the 2007-9 recession for FY2009 and FY2010. The fund reimbursed states, territories, and tribes for 80 percent of the increased costs of basic assistance, non-recurrent short-term benefits, and subsidized employment. The law also permitted states to “freeze” caseload reduction credits at pre-recession levels, allowed states to use TANF reserve funds for any benefit or service (before it was restricted to assistance), and extended supplemental grants through the end of FY2010. Signed into law February 17, 2009.
P.L. 111-242, the first continuing appropriations resolution for FY2011, extended TANF funding through December 3, 2010. Signed into law September 30, 2010. P.L. 111-290, the second continuing resolution, continued TANF funding authority through December 18, 2010. Signed into law December 4, 2010.
P.L. 111-291, the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, extended basic TANF funding through the end of FY2011, September 30, 2011, but reduced funding for the contingency fund and provided supplemental grants only through June 30, 2011. Also required some additional reporting on work activities and TANF expenditures. Signed into law December 8, 2010.
P.L. 112-35, the Short-Term TANF Extension Act, extended basic TANF funding for three months, through December 31, 2011. No funding was provided for supplemental grants. Signed into law September 30, 2011.
P.L. 112-78, Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011, extended basic TANF funding for two months through February 29, 2012. Signed into law December 23, 2011.
P.L 112-96, Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, extended basic TANF funding for the remainder of FY2012 (to September 30, 2012). It also prevented electronic benefit transaction access to TANF cash at liquor stores, casinos, and strip clubs; states would be required to prohibit access to TANF cash at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) at such establishments. It also required states to report TANF data in a manner that facilitates the exchange of that data with other programs' data systems. Signed into law February 22, 2012.
P.L. 112-175, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013 extended TANF funding through March, 2013 at FY2012 levels. Signed into law September 28, 2012.
This page was prepared on October 15, 2012 for the 2012 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.
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.
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 30, 2012 for the 2012 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.