The federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program provides families with financial assistance and related support services such as child care, job training and employment assistance. Qualified applicants must either be pregnant or responsible for the care of a child under age 19; must be a U.S. national, citizen, legal alien or permanent resident; and must have low income. Applicants must be unemployed, working for very low wages or about to become unemployed.
Each state and territory receives a Temporary Assistance to Needy Families grant and can choose the specific benefits it provides. For example, North Carolina's Temporary Aid to Needy Families grant is called Work First, which provides short-term training to increase a person's chances of employment. North Carolina's program also offers a Benefits Diversion program designed to help families experiencing a temporary employment crisis. The Benefits Diversion program offers a lump sum cash payment equal to a maximum of three months' worth of Work First assistance benefits, Medicaid and Food and Nutrition Services, referrals to child care and employment resources.
The State of Illinois Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program offers cash assistance for basic needs such as food, clothing and housing. It also offers GED preparation, vocational training, basic English classes and screening for issues related to substance abuse, mental health and domestic violence.