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TANF-ACF-IM-2007-02 (Deeming a Single Custodial Parent or Caretaker Relative with a Child Under Age Six Engaged in Work)

Published: April 18, 2007
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Data Collection and Reporting, Work Participation Rates
Information Memoranda (IM)
Work Participation Rate (WPR)


State Agencies Administering the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program and Other Interested Parties


Deeming a Single Custodial Parent or Caretaker Relative with a Child Under Age Six Engaged in Work


The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) modified the Social Security Act and established the TANF program.  As part of the TANF program it established mandatory work requirements and made special work provisions for single custodial parents and caretaker relatives with a child under age six.  Section 407(c)(2)(B) of the Social Security Act states, "single parent or relative with child under age 6 deemed to be meeting work participation requirements if parent or relative is engaged in work for 20 hours per week.”  For purposes of determining monthly participation rates under subsection (b)(1)(B)(i), a recipient who is the only parent or caretaker relative in the family of a child who has not attained 6 years of age is deemed to be engaged in work for a month if the recipient is engaged in work for an average of at least 20 hours per week during the month.  Subsection (b)(1)(B)(i) describes the monthly participation rate calculation.  Subsection (c)1)(A) describes what is meant by engaged in work for the all family rate.  It states "For purposes of subsection (b)(1)(B)(i), a recipient is engaged in work for a month in a fiscal year if the recipient is participating in work activities for at least the minimum average number of hours per week specified in the following table during the month, not fewer than 20 hours per week of which are attributable to an activity described in paragraph (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), or (12) of subsection (d), subject to this subsection:…"  The activities described in paragraph (1),(2),(3),(4),(5),(6),(7),(8),and (12) have come to be known as the core work activities.  It is clear from the statute that the single custodial parent or caretaker relative must be engaged in, at least, 20 hours of core work activities.


The purpose of this information memorandum is to advise you of a computer-programming problem with the work participation rate programs that was uncovered while revising these programs to implement new provisions of the interim final rule.  The problem is that the program was allowing all 12 work activities, not just the 9 core work activities, to count toward the 20 hours requirement for the single custodial parent or caretaker relative with a child under age six.  This problem has been fixed for programs that generate the FY 2007 work participation rates and thereafter.  The programs contain an edit which sets an error flag if, for a work-eligible individual, the Work Participation Status code is "17" and there are less than 20 hours per week of participation from core work activities.  Such an individual is not deemed engaged in work and the family does not count as participating in the overall work participation rate.

We have not yet officially released the FY 2005 and FY 2006 work participation rates.  We plan to make this same fix to the computer programs that generate the work participation rates for these periods.  For some States, this will result in a lower work participation rate then we have previously shown in our preliminary data.  These States may have detrimentally relied on the program system edits as an expression of policy on the activities that counted under section 407 (c)(2)(B).  For this reason we will not impose a penalty for FY 2005 and FY 2006 if a State’s failure to meet its required work participation standard is solely the result of the correction of the system edits.  Beginning with FY 2007 and thereafter, States are on notice that single parent families with a child under six years of age, will not be deemed as meeting the work participation requirements unless all of the 20 hours of work activities are in core activities.  If a State had additional core activity hours for these families and did not report them for the first quarter of FY 2007, they should revise the data as necessary.


Inquiries should be directed to the appropriate ACF TANF Manager



Sidonie Squier, Director
Office of Family Assistance