Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
The TANF Program, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, assists families with children when the parents or other responsible relatives cannot provide for the family’s basic needs. The Federal government provides grants to States to run the TANF program.
The WDE, in conjunction with the Wyoming Department of Family Services, has received $3 million in funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grant, allowing preschools to apply for TANF support.
The TANF program is designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency. Wyoming receives a block grant to create programs that accomplish at least one of the purposes of the TANF program:
- Provide assistance to needy families, so that children can be cared for in their own homes.
- Reduce the dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage.
- Prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
- Encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.
TANF Funds for Early Care and Education
Under current law, a state has the flexibility to utilize TANF funds to support low-income families through increased access to child care and early education opportunities. A state can transfer up to 30 percent of its TANF funds to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which provides child care assistance for disadvantaged families and funds child care quality initiatives. Through regulatory guidance, HHS has specified that states also can spend TANF funds for early education. This funding is intended to supplement, not supplant, initiatives underway in a state/territory to broaden educational supports including child care, pre-kindergarten, Head Start, and kindergarten.
States across the nation are working to ensure more children, especially those from low-income families, have access to high-quality early learning and care from birth through age five. Much of the progress at the state and local levels has been made possible through strong partnerships with the federal government aimed at expanding access and increasing quality. Federal support for early learning largely funds Head Start/Early Head Start, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and the Preschool Development Grant program. TANF plays a particularly important role as a funding source that can be used for child care and early education programs to serve low income families. Recognizing the importance of child care and early education, all states and the District of Columbia spend some amount of TANF funding on these programs.
- Nationally, 24 percent, or almost $7.5 billion, of state TANF spending and transfers went to child care and early education programs in FY 2016.
- States spent 16.6 percent, or $5.12 billion, on child care and 7.5 percent, or $2.31 billion, on pre-kindergarten or Head Start programs.
- Forty-Nine states and the District of Columbia used some amount of TANF funding to pay for child care programs, and more than half of states used part of TANF to support early education and Head Start.