Work Requirements Restored for TANF

The restoration of work participation requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was announced today with an information memorandum to states. Issued by the Office of Family Assistance at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, the new policy rescinds a 2012 Obama administration information memorandum encouraging states to apply for exemptions from the longstanding work participation standards for welfare cash assistance programs.

“Reemphasizing the work requirements in the welfare program means once again promoting gainful employment and economic independence as goals for every family,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families Steven Wagner. “The waiver option offered by the Obama administration is being replaced today by an expectation that work should always be encouraged as a condition for receiving welfare.”

An information memorandum issued to state and territorial agencies today rescinds an information memorandum from July 12, 2012 inviting states to pursue waivers from the requirement for a state to ensure “parents and caretakers receiving assistance under the program engage in work activities.” Only one state, Ohio, applied for such a waiver, in October 2015 (and again in May 2017). The state was informed today that its application from nearly two years ago, which inexplicably sat idle under the previous administration, has been denied.

“Our agency is committed to helping low-income families transition from welfare to work,” said Office of Family Assistance Director Clarence Carter. “We cannot achieve the goal of self-sufficiency if meaningful work participation is divorced from welfare cash assistance.”

View the new information memorandum to state welfare offices. To learn more about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, visit https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ofa/programs/tanf.

###

All ACF news releases, fact sheets and other materials are available on the ACF news page. Follow ACF on Twitter for more updates.

Quick Facts

  • Only one state, Ohio, applied for such a waiver, in October 2015 (and again in May 2017).
  • Ohio was informed today that its application from nearly two years ago, has been denied.

Quotes

“Reemphasizing the work requirements in the welfare program means once again promoting gainful employment and economic independence as goals for every family."
Steven Wagner, Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families
“The waiver option offered by the Obama administration is being replaced today by an expectation that work should always be encouraged as a condition for receiving welfare.”
Steven Wagner, Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families
“Our agency is committed to helping low-income families transition from welfare to work."
Clarence Carter, Director, Office of Family Assistance
“We cannot achieve the goal of self-sufficiency if meaningful work participation is divorced from welfare cash assistance.”
Clarence Carter, Director, Office of Family Assistance
Last Reviewed: August 30, 2017
Back to Top