As the US economy shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state administrators for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)—the nation’s primary program for helping families with low incomes meet basic needs while supporting their transition to economic mobility through work opportunities—faced new challenges operating the program and meeting their clients’ needs. For families previously or newly receiving TANF, the pandemic made it harder to meet the work and activity requirements necessary to continue receiving benefits. Many state TANF administrators and agencies responded to the pandemic and stay-at-home orders by adjusting their policies to meet their states’ and families’ unique situations, needs, and challenges. In this brief, we describe how some of these agencies adapted their policies during the early months of the pandemic.
This brief was revised October 19, 2020, to incorporate information received after publishing. On page 5, no surveyed states included both additional UI payments and economic impact payments as income when determining TANF eligibility; an earlier version said that one state did, but it answered the survey question erroneously. The number of surveyed states that included UI only is 13, not 12. The original endnote 6 has now also been deleted.