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Tribal TANF

Federally recognized Indian tribes can apply for funding to administer and operate their own TANF programs. This option is described under section 412 of the Social Security Act, as amended by Pub.L.104-193. As of May 13, 2019, there are 74 approved Tribal TANF programs. These programs serve 284 federally recognized Tribes and Alaska Native Villages.

TANF gives federally recognized Indian tribes flexibility in the design of welfare programs that promote work and responsibility and strengthen families. Similar to states, they receive block grants to design and operate programs that accomplish one of the four purposes of the TANF program.

The four purposes of the TANF program are:

  • 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

Indian tribes are required to submit a three-year Tribal TANF plan to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) for review and approval. The approved Tribal TANF programs then receive a portion of the state TANF block grant from the state where the tribe is located.

Last Reviewed: May 13, 2019