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Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)


 The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides assistance and work opportunities to needy families by granting states, territories and tribes the federal funds and flexibility to develop and implement their own welfare programs that cover benefits, administrative expenses and services targeting needy families. The assistance is time-limited and focuses on work, responsibility and self-sufficiency. The TANF program currently requires welfare recipients to meet established work benchmarks in order to continue to receive benefits. No more than 12 months is allowable as "work activity" for postsecondary instruction.

Current Status

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program was last authorized on February 8, 2006, as Title VII, Subtitle A of the Deficit Reduction Act (Public Law 109-171) and is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2010.


Under the welfare reform legislation of 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (Public Law 104-193), Congress created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, replacing Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program and the Emergency Assistance (EA) program.

Relevance to CTE

In terms of work, education and training, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program:

  • established strict work requirements (at least 30 hours per week in work activities)
  • limited the amount of time program recipients could spending in education and training activities (no more than 12 months for vocational education)
  • capped the amount of a state's caseload that could be engaged in education and training at 30 percent
  • limited the types of education and training that could count as a work activity (postsecondary academic education is among excluded activities)


The MDRC was created to learn what works in social policy through large-scale evaluations of real-world policies and programs targeted to low-income people.

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
The Center for Law and Social Policy seek to improve the lives of low-income individuals through development and advocacy for federal, state and local policies to strengthen families and create pathways to education and work.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a policy organizations working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals. The Center conducts research and analysis to help shape public debates over proposed budget and tax policies and to help ensure that policymakers consider the needs of low-income families and individuals in these debates. They also develop policy options to alleviate poverty.

Coalition on Human Needs
The Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) is an alliance of national organizations working together to promote public policies which address the needs of low-income and other vulnerable populations.

Economic Policy Institute
The Economic Policy Institute is a nonprofit think tank that focuses on economic policy with regards to the interests of low- and middle-income workers. The institute conducts original research on a wide range of economic issues, such as trends in wages, incomes, and prices; health care; education; retirement security; state-level economic development strategies; trade and global finance; comparative international economic performance; the health of manufacturing and other key sectors; global competitiveness and energy development.

The Child Welfare League of America
CWLA is a coalition of private and public agencies serving vulnerable children and families.

The Urban Institute
The Urban Institute is a think tank that gathers data, conducts research, evaluates programs, offers technical assistance overseas, and educates Americans on social and economic issues.

The Brookings Institution
The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit think tank that conducts research in economics, metropolitan policy, governance, foreign policy, and global economy and development.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is a federal agency that funds state, territory, local, and tribal organizations to provide family assistance (welfare), child support, child care, Head Start, child welfare, and other programs relating to children and families.

House Ways and Means Committee
The Committee on Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives. The committee has jurisdiction over revenue and related issues such as tariffs, reciprocal trade agreements, and the bonded debt and revenue-related aspects of the Social Security system, Medicare, and social services programs.

House Education and the Workforce Committee
The Education and Labor Committee's purpose is to ensure that Americans' needs are addressed so that students and workers may move forward in a changing school system and a competitive global economy. The committee and its five subcommittees oversee education and workforce programs that affect all Americans, from early learning through secondary education, from job training through retirement.

Senate Finance Committee
The Senate Finance Committee concerns has jurisdiction over matters relating to taxation and other revenue measures such as health programs under the Social Security Act, including Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

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The Association for Career and Technical Education is the nation’s largest not-for-profit education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. Founded in 1926, ACTE has more than 25,000 members; career and technical educators, administrators, researchers, guidance counselors and others involved in planning and conducting career and technical education programs at the secondary, postsecondary and adult levels. ACTE provides advocacy, public awareness and access to information on career and technical education, professional development and tools that enable members to be successful and effective leaders.

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