TANF and Other Government Programs for Low-Income Families

 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, was established in 1996 as a welfare program by the Federal Government. This program replaced three other welfare programs that could be used as a combined benefit in previous years. Both pre- and post-TANF plans have also been set in place by the Federal government in order to help ease the transition into and away from this welfare program. Families are eligible for cash assistance on an as-needed basis. The Federal government only allocates a certain amount of money each fiscal year for TANF, and the program is designed to help those who are truly in need of financial help. Those who do qualify for TANF benefits must also meet certain requirements in the pre- and post-TANF transitional periods, as well as meeting certain requirements while enrolled in the program.

How The Pre-TANF Program Works – steps before getting cash assistance:

In the pre-TANF phase of the program, a family will be assigned a caseworker who will assess the family’s financial situation. During this phase, the caseworker will identify areas of financial resources in the family and encourage the family members to obtain employment if they are not already employed. The pre-TANF phase can last anywhere from a day or two to up to 45 days, depending on each individual situation. Also during this time, the Department of Human Services can provide family members with childcare services while parents look for employment, and can even help with uniforms needed for a job or even personal care items as well. In this phase and throughout the TANF program, families are only placed in the TANF program as a last resort.

If all other options are exhausted, family members cannot find work or their income still falls well below the poverty line, then and only then are family members placed in this program. The program was also “revamped” in 1996 when it replaced the former welfare programs that existed; the existing programs became too much of a “crutch” as they were. The Federal government found that the former welfare programs did not provide enough incentives for those who were currently enrolled in such programs to seek viable employment. TANF was designed to provide assistance to those in need before, during and after their transitions into and out of this particular welfare program.

Assistance For Post-TANF Families

For those families who do become employed while enrolled in the TANF program and place themselves out of the program due to their income, the post-TANF program is designed to help ease their transition into the workforce. After receiving government assistance for a while which provides a steady source of temporary income, it can be a bit scary to transition into the sometimes unstable workforce. Since most employers require their employees to go through some sort of “probationary period” during the first 3, 6, or even 12 months of employment, the reality of an employee losing his or her job during this period is very possible. This can cause employees to be less confident in the stability of their job and understandably, so; the first year of employment is often the most difficult. However, the post-TANF program provides graduates of the TANF program with up to a $50 monthly stipend for a period of one year. This stipend can increase the employee’s confidence in his or her financial situation for the time being and can “buy some time” while the employee either looks for additional work, stays with the same employer, becomes promoted, or even changes jobs altogether.

Additional cash and financial assistance Offered For Single Moms

In addition to financial and employment assistance, families can apply for other government programs designed to assist low-income families. For example, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, provides families financial assistance for buying groceries and other basic household goods. Like the TANF program, families will be assigned a case manager who will review the family’s financial situation on a case-by-case basis in order to determine eligibility for the program. Those who are identified as being in “financial need” will go through a similar process as in the TANF program. A debit card will be issued to families eligible for the SNAP program. These cards are pre-loaded each month with ​ money. The amount of money on each card is determined by multiple factors. These factors include: income, household size, employment status, geographic location, access to jobs, etc. These SNAP debit cards are accepted at most grocery stores, gas stations, bulk food stores, and most other retailers that sell any type of consumable food. Originally created in 1943 and known as “food stamps,” the Federal government soon discovered that this program was being abused by those who did not necessarily qualify for the program. Over the years, the laws have changed, as well as the income brackets for eligibility into the program. Until fairly recently in the late 1980’s, the “‘food stamp” program was just that: physical stamps that resembled postage stamps. Each “food stamp” was assigned a specific value equal to the value of the different dollar bills of the United States. Those enrolled in the program prior to the late 1980’s had to count out the amount of food stamps needed to pay for their groceries equivalent to the amount of physical dollar bills each item cost.

Not to be overlooked, the healthcare needs of low-income families were also not being met due to the high cost of health insurance. Created under the Social Security Act of 1965, Medicaid provides low-income families with a managed care-type health care insurance. This program as a whole is focused on preventative healthcare, which means that it encourages and even requires those enrolled in its program to seek regular check ups with their physicians. Medicaid also covers dental care for those enrolled in the program. In addition to Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is designed as additional healthcare coverage for children who qualify for the program.

All of these welfare programs provide assistance to those in financial need. Although all of the programs were originally created by the Federal government, they now fall under the jurisdiction of the individual states. The programs mentioned are just some of the many programs available for low-income families.

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One thought on “TANF and Other Government Programs for Low-Income Families”

  1. I AM A SINGLE MOTHER OF 3 Young children on social security disability benefits. I RECIEVE A TOTAL OF 823.0 a month I was just evicted from my apartment on Saturday the 16th of August I really need help.I have been on the voucher program for a few years they said they can’t help me please someone help me

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