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Policy Basics

President Clinton and Congress created Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in 1996 in an effort to “end welfare as we know it.”

TANF reaches many fewer families than it used to, and states are increasingly using federal and state TANF dollars for programs and services that do not target the poorest families. Also, TANF benefits have lost a fifth of their value since 1996 in most states. CBPP’s Family Income Support team analyzes how federal TANF policies affect states and explores ways that federal policymakers can improve the program to better serve families in poverty.