Understanding the Intersection Between TANF and Refugee Cash Assistance Services - Overview

Publication Date: November 13, 2014


In the fall of 2014, ACF launched a descriptive study to document the similarities and differences between cash assistance and associated social services offered under the Refugee Cash Assistance program and TANF.

ACF’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) administers a variety of social service programs intended to connect newly resettled refugees with critical resources, help them become economically self-sufficient, and help them integrate into American society. ORR’s Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) program, which provides both financial support and social services to newly resettled refugees, is similar to TANF in that both are cash assistance programs that provide services aimed at promoting self-sufficiency; however the content, mode of delivery and rules surrounding these services vary significantly by state and locality.

The Understanding the Intersection Between TANF and Refugee Cash Assistance Services study aims to better understand the population of refugees served by TANF and RCA, and the major differences in programmatic services associated with these two programs. The study, which launched an online survey of state refugee coordinators in January 2015 and will begin site visits in spring 2016, will explore how states and localities have coordinated TANF and RCA programs to deliver social services to refugees and whether these approaches hold promise for long-term job stability and economic self-sufficiency among refugees.

This field study will provide a deeper understanding of current social service delivery systems serving refugees and will help to identify gaps in existing knowledge and data around these systems. The project’s final report and special topics briefs are expected in late 2016. The study is being conducted by Abt Associates and MEF Associates.

The point of contact is Tiffany McCormack.

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