Office of Family Assistance

330 C Street SW
3rd Floor
Washington, D.C. 20201
(202) 401-9275 Phone
(202) 205-5887 Fax
www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa

Mission Statement

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

Currently, OFA’s two top priorities 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.

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.

Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood: The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 (CRA) authorized $150 million to promote healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood.

  • Healthy Marriage Initiative: These programs are designed to deliver healthy marriage and relationship education and services in one or more of the following eight allowable activities specified in the authorizing legislation:
    • Advertising campaigns on the value of healthy marriage and the skills needed to increase marital stability
    • Education in high schools on the value of healthy marriages, healthy relationship skills, and budgeting
    • Marriage education, including relationship and parenting skills programs, financial management, conflict resolution, and job and career advancement
    • Pre-marital education and marriage skills training
    • Marriage enhancement and marriage skills training programs for married couples
    • Divorce reduction programs that teach healthy relationship skills
    • Marriage mentoring programs that use married couples as role models and mentors in at-risk communities
    • Research on the benefits of healthy marriages and healthy marriage education

The Healthy Marriage grantee programs offer a broad array of healthy  relationship education services at the community level.  Some initiatives  combine marriage and relationship education with supportive services to  address participation barriers and the economic stability needs of their  participants, including intensive employment services for participants who  need education, training or employment.

  • Responsible Fatherhood: The Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood program promotes responsible fatherhood by funding projects to implement activities that encourage responsible parenting, foster economic stability, and promote healthy marriage.  A funded program must offer all three of these types of activities. These programs are designed to assist fathers in overcoming barriers that impede them from being effective and nurturing parents while helping them improve relationships with their children and partners.  The CRA also authorizes funding of a National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse and a national media campaign designed to promote and encourage the appropriate involvement of fathers in the lives of their children.  Fatherhood.gov is ACF’s National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse.  The clearinghouse collects and makes available information that promotes and supports the responsible fatherhood field, including fathers, practitioners, and other stakeholders.

Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG): Authorized by the Affordable Care Act, the HPOG program provides education and training to TANF recipients and other low-income individuals for occupations in the health care field that pay well and are expected to either experience labor shortages or be in high demand.

  • Program Participants: HPOG participants are TANF recipients and other low-income individuals, who include those without a high school diploma or GED, veterans, individuals with limited English proficiency, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients, and disadvantaged and at-risk youth. Program participants enroll in a variety of training and education programs that result in an employer or industry-recognized certificate or degree. Training programs take place in a variety of settings and formats, including traditional classrooms, the workplace, and distance learning. Participants receive health care-related training as home care aides, certified nursing assistants, medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, emergency medical technicians, licensed vocational nurses, registered nurses, dental assistants, and health information technicians.
  • Grantee Organizations: In 2010, 5-year grants were awarded to 32 organizations located across 23 states. Grantees include institutions of higher education (including community colleges and tribal colleges), local workforce investment boards, state entities, community based organizations, and one tribal council. Grantees work with community partners to enhance supportive services for participants, such as transportation, dependent care and temporary housing. Grantees are required to coordinate with state agencies responsible for administering the TANF program, local and state workforce investment boards, and state apprenticeship agencies. A new round of HPOG grants will be awarded in September 2015.

OFA Divisions

  • Division of State TANF Policy: This division drafts regulations and provides policy and guidance for the TANF programs operated by states, the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The division:
    • Assesses TANF plans and amendments
    • Evaluates operations to determine compliance with program requirements
    • Provides advice on penalty actions to be taken, including corrective compliance plans designed to remedy operational deficiencies
    • Provides technical assistance to grantees and information to the public
  • Division of State and Territory TANF Management: This division provides technical assistance to states, territories, localities and community groups.  In addition, the division oversees the implementation of the Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood initiatives.
  • Division of Data Collection and Analysis: This division collects, compiles, analyzes, and disseminates TANF statistical, performance, and recipient demographic data.  In addition, the division has the lead for web issues in OFA.
  • Division of Tribal TANF Management: This division provides program guidance and technical assistance to:
    • Federally recognized American Indian tribes and certain Alaska Native entities in the development, implementation and administration of Tribal TANF programs
    • Federally recognized tribes and tribal organizations in implementation and administration of Native Employment Works (NEW) programs and
    • Tribal TANF Child Welfare Coordination projects

OFA Regional Program Units: Program units collaborate with states, tribes and other grantees, as well as other divisions within ACF, to assist in the administration of TANF, Tribal TANF and OFA-administered discretionary grants. 

Last Reviewed: February 4, 2016
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