What We Do

The Office of Family Assistance (OFA) administers federal grant programs that foster family economic security and stability, including the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and the Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF) program, Native Employment Works, Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grants, Health Profession Opportunity Grants, and Tribal TANF-Child Welfare Coordination grants.

Major Goals

OFA’s two top priorities for 2015-2016 are to:

  • Increase family economic security and stability by supporting our state, territory, tribal, and community grantee partners to design and implement programs that focus simultaneously on parental employment and child and family well-being.
  • Promote collaboration among human services agencies, workforce agencies, and educational institutions to encourage service delivery that addresses outcomes for both parents and their children.

Programs

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).  Since replacing Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1996, the TANF program has served as one of the nation’s primary economic security and stability programs for low-income families with children.  TANF is a block grant that provides $16.6 billion annually to states, territories, the District of Columbia, and federally-recognized Indian tribes.  These TANF jurisdictions use federal TANF funds to provide income support to low-income families with children, as well as to provide a wide range of services (e.g., work-related activities, child care, and refundable tax credits) designed to accomplish the program’s four broad purposes.  These statutory purposes are to:

(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

(4) encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

While TANF jurisdictions must meet certain work participation and cost sharing requirements, they have considerable flexibility with TANF funds to implement programs that best serve their distinct communities.

Tribal TANF.  Federally-recognized Indian tribes are eligible to apply for funding to administer and operate their own TANF programs. Tribes receive block grants to design and operate programs that accomplish one of the four purposes of the TANF program.  There are currently 70 Tribal TANF programs, representing 284 federally-recognized tribes and Alaska Native Villages.

Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood (HMRF).  The HMRF initiative was launched in 2005 to promote stable relationships and positive child outcomes.  In 2010, Congress reauthorized the program and allocated $150 million annually to fund competitive grants, with funding equally split between healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood grants.  There are currently 121 HMRF grantees.  Funds also support research and evaluation activities and the continuation of a national responsible fatherhood clearinghouse and media campaign.  Together, these activities are designed to promote and encourage healthy marriage and relationships, positive father and family interactions, economic stability, and collaboration activities to address the needs of at-risk families with a comprehensive approach.  OFA will award a new round of grants in September 2015.

Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program.  Authorized by the Affordable Care Act, the HPOG program provides education and training to TANF recipients and other low-income individuals for health occupations that pay well and are expected to either experience labor shortages or be in high demand.  Since Fiscal Year 2010, OFA has awarded over $67 million annually in competitive grants to 32 organizations, including 5 tribal organizations, across 23 states.  Additionally, $10 million per year is designated for a multi-pronged evaluation effort.  OFA will award a new round of grants in September 2015. 

Native Employment Works (NEW).  The Native Employment Works (NEW) program provides annual funding to 78 grantees for a variety of work-related activities to support job readiness, job placement, and job retention for Native Americans.

Tribal TANF-Child Welfare Coordination grants.  In October 2011, ACF announced the award of $2 million in annual funding for TANF–Child Welfare Coordination grants to 14 tribes and tribal organizations. The grants demonstrate models of effective coordination of Tribal TANF and child welfare services to tribal families at risk of child abuse or neglect.  OFA will award a new round of competitive grants in September 2015.