TANF’s history began in 1935. Although TANF did not start in 1935, Congress created the Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) program, which gave financial assistance to low-income families. When the program first started, there were many restrictions in place for families to receive financial assistance. The program targeted a certain type of household, which meant not many families could collect the cash assistance they needed.
Furthermore, Congress passed a variety of acts throughout the years that helped shape TANF’s program history. The acts allowed TANF to continue to receive funding, changed eligibility rules and more. The sections below provide you with a TANF history timeline, which will give you a better understanding of all the different changes that the program has gone through.
The Social Security Act of 1935
TANF’s history timeline begins in 1935, which was when the Social Security Act of 1935 came into effect. The act created ADC, which was a program that provided cash assistance to needy families just like TANF. However, there were many differences from ADC and to what TANF is today. For example, the program targeted dependent children who only had the support from one parent for specific reasons. To receive TANF benefits now, two adults can be a part of the household.
Additionally, the Social Security Act of 1935 created ADC as a shared federal and state responsibility. States had a larger role, as they needed to administer the program in their state. The federal government put restrictions on eligibility requirements. For more information on requirements, download our comprehensive guide.
Changes to ADC
In 1961, ADC began to experience changes, such as now allowing families with two adults to receive financial assistance, and the program was renamed to Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). However, just like in 1935, families still had specific criteria they needed to satisfy in order to join the program. Additionally, the Public Welfare Amendments of 1962 established a community work and training program for families with two adults. The program targeted men and allowed them to find job openings.
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981
Congress passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, which had a variety of features. The act increased tax rates on earnings of the program. The goal of the act was to raise the income the government received so they can provide more assistance to families that needed the most help. In addition, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act emphasized the requirement to work. If AFDC members required to work were not engaging in any of the actives approved by the state, then they would face consequences.
Family Support Act of 1988
The Family Support Act of 1988 created the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program. JOBS provided services, such as education programs, for recipients in the program. JOBS was available for families with two parents, regardless of the parent’s gender. Also, the Family Support Act guaranteed childcare for families. This provided the opportunity for adults to participate in the JOBS program, and not have to worry about finding someone to take care of their children.
The Replacement of AFDC
In 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWOA) of 1996. The act reduced federal authority over the program, which granted more power to the states. Also, the act ended AFDC and replaced it with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
By replacing AFDC with TANF, there were new guidelines the federal, state government and members of the program had to follow. There were changes in the way funding works, how recipients can use TANF funds and more.
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) gave an extension to TANF through the end of 2010. Additionally, the act made modifications to the act, such as requiring states to verify work activities recipients were participating in. The purpose of verifying the activities they were participating in was to ensure they were working. If members could not verify their activities, then they would face penalties.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
The U.S. economy entered a recession in 2007. Many individuals lost their jobs and found it difficult to purchase the essentials they needed. In response to the recession, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The act included tax cuts, unemployment insurance provisions and extra funding for programs. Additionally, ARRA provided funding to create a TANF Emergency Contingency Fund. The funding reimbursed sates for the cost of basic assistance from 2009 to 2010.
TANF From 2010 to 2019
In 2012, Congress approved the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act. The act required each state to prevent TANF recipients from withdrawing their cash benefits from ATMs at casinos, liquor stores and strip clubs. Also, it gave the program a yearlong extension, which allowed the program to continue to operate
In 2013, there was a government shutdown. During the shutdown, all 50 states did not receive any funding from the federal government. In order for the program to continue to operate, states had to use unspent TANF funds they had. Using those funds was the only way they could continue to provide services and benefits to families. Once the government shutdown came to an end, the federal government continued to provide funding for TANF.
Since the government shutdown, the program has continued to operate through short-term extensions. The most recent TANF extension came in January 2019, and the extension is going to continue to provide funding until the end of June 2019.
For more details about TANF including how to apply, download our free, informative guide.