Eligible families can receive emergency cash assistance by applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. TANF is a government program designed to help needy families become self-sufficient, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Family Assistance.
States receive block grants to create and manage programs that accomplish the goals of the TANF program, such as providing assistance to needy families so children can be cared for at home and promoting job preparation, says the Office of Family Assistance.
Individuals can apply for TANF at the local agency that administers state welfare benefits, advises the Office of Family Assistance. For example, in Alabama, TANF is administered by the Department of Human Resources, where it is referred to as the Family Assistance Program. The Family Assistance Program distributes temporary cash assistance for basic needs for low-income families with children under age 18, or under age 19 if the child is a full-time high school student, according to the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Funds are issued on Electronic Benefit Transfer cards. Recipients cannot use EBT cards in gambling establishments, strip clubs, liquor stores, tattoo or body piercing establishments, or facilities that provide psychic services. Additionally, EBT cards cannot be used to buy tobacco products or lottery tickets.