Youth Justice: TANF (Cash Assistance)

What is cash assistance/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)?

TANF gives cash assistance to low-income people living with minor children.

What are the requirements to get cash assistance?

  1. Must be a pregnant woman or person living with a minor child.
  2. Must have low income. See the chart below for income limits.
  3. Cannot have more than $1000 in savings or things you own other than your primary home (these things are called resources).
  4. Must participate in a welfare to work program if you are 18 or older. If you are under 18, you must go to school or a vocational program full time.
    1. You may be excused from this requirement if you have a disability or are a victim of domestic violence.
  5. Must try to get child support against your child’s other parent who does not live with you, unless you have a good reason not to (such as fear of violence).

What are the income limits to get cash assistance?

The chart below lists the maximum amount of cash assistance for each family size. If your income is higher than this, you probably do not qualify. Once you receive TANF, the welfare office will only count half your wages as income, to encourage you to work.

Number of people in budget group







Each additional person

Maximum grant per month








Do I need to work when receiving TANF?

Generally, yes. 

  • During your first two years of receiving TANF, attending an educational program can count towards your work requirement. 
  • After those first two years, you generally must be working or looking for a job to receive TANF. 
  • You are excused from the work requirement if you show “good cause,” which includes things like disability, lack of transportation or childcare, and being a victim of domestic violence. 

If you are a low-income parent under 18 years old:

You must live in an “adult supervised living arrangement.” An adult supervised living arrangement includes living with your parents, another adult, or in a program. However, if you cannot live with your parents, you can still get help! Some exceptions to this requirement include:

  • Your parents are ill, have died, won’t let you live with them or don’t have space for you;
  • They are unable to take care of you for mental, emotional, physical or financial reasons;
  • Your parents spent your check in an inappropriate way;
  • They live far away and you have not lived with them for twelve months or more and you are working, in school or in substance abuse treatment where you live;
  • Your or your child’s mental or physical health would be at risk if you lived with them;
  • There is a history of sexual abuse;
  • Or if there are other good reasons why you shouldn’t live there.

How long can I receive TANF?

Generally, you can only receive TANF for a total of 5 years during your lifetime, unless are a victim of domestic violence or have other emergency circumstances. 

Get Help

For questions about TANF, call Philadelphia’s County Assistance Office (CAO) customer service center: 215-560-7726. You can also get help at Community Legal Services and Philadelphia Legal Assistance.