Tribal TANF Plan Guidance

Publication Date: August 25, 2020

TANF gives both States and Federally recognized Tribes flexibility in the design of welfare programs which promote work, responsibility and strengthen families. The purpose of the law is to support programs designed to provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives; reduce dependency on public benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage; prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

"Tribal Guidance for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program", provides program information, TANF plan content guidance, and a suggested plan outline for an application to operate a TANF program by Tribes. Please note, complete requirements of Tribal TANF applications are found in the Tribal TANF final regulations at 45 CFR Part 286.

Federally recognized Tribes are eligible to apply for funding under section 412 of the Social Security Act, as amended by Pub.L.104-193 to administer and operate their own TANF programs. Implementation of Tribal TANF programs was authorized beginning July 1, 1997. Eligible Tribes are required to submit a three year Tribal TANF plan to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) for review and approval. There is a Special Rule for Alaska: Section 419(4)(B) limits the entities in the State of Alaska who may operate a TANF program.

Adoption of a Tribal TANF Program means that the Tribe assumes the role of providing temporary assistance to needy families in lieu of the State. The State will no longer have responsibility for the provision of assistance to needy families served by a Tribal TANF program. Issues related to the operation and maintenance of a cash assistance program are varied. For example, staff must be available to assist Tribal TANF recipients with issues arising from receipt of assistance. Another area of administration that is important for the operation of a TANF program is the development and maintenance of procedural manuals and documents outlining the structure, procedures and policies to be used to determine initial eligibility for TANF as well as continued eligibility once the household has been determined eligible for TANF.

For tribes and tribal consortia interested in operating a TANF program, we recommend you download and review the guidance, below.  Additional questions can be addressed by your Regional Program Manager.


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