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Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides financial help for children and their parents or relatives who are living with them. Monthly cash payments help pay for food, clothing, housing, utilities, furniture, transportation, telephone, laundry, household equipment, medical supplies not paid for by Medicaid and other basic needs. The amount of TANF payment depends on family size and income.

Also, here is a helpful link to information on Reentry Myths about TANF (National Reentry Resource Center).

See below for detailed information on the TANF program, and use the following link to Apply for TANF

TANF for Families

To receive TANF for Families, a family must be below income and resource limits set for the program. DHS looks at a family’s income and compares it with the amount the family pays for basic needs such as rent, utilities, child care, and work-related expenses. Resources such as cash on hand, money in the bank and type of vehicles are also considered.

Families who are approved for TANF will receive payments for six months. DHS will send a renewal application to the family before the end of the six months.

Families who receive TANF benefits can also get Medicaid benefits. Families can choose if they want to receive one or both types of benefits.

DHS provides TANF payments through the EBT – an electronic debit card that is used as a credit card at the cash register.

The total amount of time the parent or relative can receive TANF ranges from 12 to 36 months and is based on his or her education, work experience, and personal or economic situation. There are no time limits for children.

In most cases, a child must be under 18 years old to receive TANF. If an 18-year-old is a full-time student and is expected to graduate before he or she turns 19, TANF payments may be made until he or she graduates.

If a child’s parent or relative is also approved for TANF, the parent or relative must sign and follow the Personal Responsibility Agreement. By signing the Personal Responsibility Agreement the parent or relative agrees to:

  • Train for a job or look for employment if capable (assistance is provided by the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
  • Cooperate with child support requirements.
  • Not voluntarily quit a job.
  • Not abuse alcohol or drugs.
  • Take parenting skills classes if required.
  • Make sure that children are attending school.

One-Time TANF

One-time TANF provides $1,000 in cash for families in crisis. It can be given only once in a 12-month period to those who qualify.

The purpose of one-time TANF is to help with a short-term crisis such as:

  • Loss of a job.
  • Loss of financial support for a child, such as Child Support or help paying living expenses (rent, utilities, and food).
  • Not being able to find a job after graduating from a university, college, junior college or technical training school.
  • Not being able to get a job because a vehicle is not working.
  • Loss of a home.
  • Medical emergency.