Source: CBPP – Policy Basics: An Introduction to TANF

What Is TANF?

Congress created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant through the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, as part of a federal effort to “end welfare as we know it.”  TANF replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), which had provided cash welfare to poor families with children since 1935.

Under TANF, the federal government provides a block grant to the states, which use these funds to operate their own programs.  In order to receive federal funds, states must also spend some of their own dollars on programs for needy families (they face severe fiscal penalties if they fail to do so).  This state-spending requirement, known as the “maintenance of effort” (MOE) requirement, replaced the state match that AFDC had required.

States can use federal TANF and state MOE dollars to meet any of the four goals set out in the 1996 law:  “(1) provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives; (2) end the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage; (3) prevent and reduce the incidence of out of wedlock pregnancies and establish annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies; and (4) encourage the formation and maintenance of two parent families.”

Welfare has not solved poverty, government bureaucracy or automation and offshoring of jobs


  • Amend the Texas constitution and let cities set minimum wage
  • Create a state EITC like 26 other states
  • Close corporate loopholes in the state sales tax


Texas Constitution
Code – Human Resources Code
Chapter – 31 Financial Assistance and Service Programs
Section – 31.0065 Time Limited Benefits
Section – 31.0066 Hardship Exemptions from Federal Time Limits
Section – 31.012 Mandatory Work or Participation in Employment Activities Through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Employment Program
Section – 31.052 Limit on Amount of Financial Assistance


Austin Chronicle – Get Out the Bootstraps Cause Texas Ain’t Takin’ Care of You No More

Urban Institute – Recent changes in Texas welfare and work child care and child welfare systems

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Primer on TANF Financing and Federal Requirements

Temporary Assistance for Need Families – for families

Texas SNAP [Food Stamps]

Brookings – The Structure of the TANF Block Grant

Brookings – Block Grants: Flexibility vs. Stability in Social Services

U.S. GAO – Welfare Reform: Early Fiscal Effects of the TANF Block Grant

Think Progress – The ‘Magical Thinking’ Behind The GOP Plan To Cut Programs For The Poor

Think Progress – California Passes First-Ever Bill To Give Poor Families Money For Diapers

Center for American Progress – Top 5 Reasons Why TANF Is Not a Model for Other Income Assistance Programs

Scott Santens – TANF is TERRIBLE: How temporary assistance for needy families is actually permanent assistance for state governments

Washington Post – Our welfare system insults the poor. Basic income could do better.

Welfare Reform Reauthorization: An Overview of Problems and Issues

AEI – TANF is failing the non-working poor

State EITC and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Funds

CBPP – Various Supports for Low-Income Families Reduce Poverty and Have Long-Term Positive Effects On Families and Children

CBPP – TANF Cash Benefits Have Fallen by More Than 20 Percent in Most States and Continue to Erode

CBPP – A State-by-State Look at TANF  [map]

CBPP – Chart Book: TANF at 19

CBPP – How States Use Federal and State Funds Under the TANF Block Grant

CPPP – A New Welfare to Work Approach for Texas

CBPP – TANF Benefits Are Low and Have Not Kept Pace With Inflation

Texas Tribune – Texas Stops Helping Poor Families Pay Their Electric Bills

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