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Policy Basics

The Family Income Support (FIS) team at CBPP researches and analyzes federal and state issues related to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and helps states design their TANF programs to reach more eligible families and meet their particular needs. FIS also issues analyses detailing the harmful impact of proposals that would weaken anti-poverty programs and lifting up evidence on promising policies to expand work opportunities to struggling workers.

The TANF block grant, with which states provide direct cash assistance, child care, work-related activities and supports, and other services to low-income families, was created in 1996 to replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).

FIS’ research has found TANF reaches many fewer poor families than it used to, and TANF benefits have lost more than 20 percent of their value since 1996 in most states, making it very hard for families to meet basic needs. FIS analyses have also shown that states’ spending has shifted away from providing cash assistance and towards other, often unrelated, state programs and services.