TANF – Welfare for Families

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is a public assistance program for low-income families with children. The word “welfare”, used generically, usually refers to TANF.

TANF provides a cash benefit (depending on family size – see below), and Medicaid (CNP) coverage for the family.  Families on TANF are eligible for food stamps, as well.


Family size / Grant Amt

  • 2 / $385
  • 3 / $478
  • 4 / $562
  • 5 / $648
  • 6 / $736
  • 7 / $850
  • 8 / $941
  • 9 / $1, 033
  • 10 or more / $1,123

Food, medical and childcare

Eligibility (Income Based)

  • Must be a family with dependent children. Pregnant women may also be eligible.
  • Income must be less than twice the grant level for a family of the same size.
  • Citizenship requirements
  • People who are caring for a relative’s child, or legal guardians, may be eligible for a similar program: http://www.dshs.wa.gov/onlinecso/non_needy_relative_grant.shtml

Application Process

  • Complete DSHS “Application for Benefits” or apply online
  • Turn in application at DSHS CSO (6860 Capitol Blvd Tumwater) at 7:30 in the morning for same day screening
  • Caseworker and recipient develop “Individual Responsibility Plan” (IRP). The IRP should give a deferral from job search, with housing search in its place.
  • *or* denial and Fair Hearing
  • Request AREN for move-in costs
  • Work First orientation and job search

WorkFirst Participation

  • must participate in 32 hrs per week of job search or work

Higher Education

School can count toward Work First requirements if:

  • recipient also works 20 hrs/week for pay
  • recipient participates in a required internship, under certain conditions (contact POWER at 360-352-9716)
  • recipient participates in Work Study under certain conditions (contact POWER at 352 9716)
  • recipient is training for a field with a high demand for labor and pays a high wage, under certain conditions (contact POWER at 352 9716)

Exemptions / Deferrals

Recipients can be exempted or get a temporary deferral from job search for the following reasons:

  • already working 20 hours per week
  • 55 years old or older and caring for a related child
  • 20 years old or younger, don’t have GED, and are in school full time
  • Family or personal emergencies: domestic violence, homelessness, death in family, etc.
  • pregnant or have children under 1yr/old and participating in “pregnancy to work” program
  • are a single parent who has one child under 2yrs/old, or two or more children under 6yrs/old (can be deferred for one year)


If you fail to fulfill WorkFirst requirements, 40% may be cut (sanctioned) from your grant, and the remaining amount is sent to a protective payee. After 6 months in sanction, the grant is terminated altogether. DSHS regularly sanctions and terminates families without legal cause. If you are being sanctioned, call POWER at 352 9716.


“Additional Requirements & Emergency Needs”
up to $750 per year in emergency grant money for TANF recipients. If you are on -or are eligible for- TANF, think about applying for AREN for move-in costs for housing.

Diversion Cash

up to $1500 per year in emergency grant money for families eligible for, but not receiving, TANF. Grant must be repaid if family applies for TANF within one year. Call POWER before applying for Diversion Cash.

Work Support

A variety of services to aid job search or employment. Car repair, public transportation, clothing and hygiene, etc.

Additional Resources

DSHS “EAZ” Manual on TANF