Families First/TANF


Families First, the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, is a workforce development and employment program. The Families First program emphasizes work, training, and personal responsibility. It is temporary and has a primary focus on gaining self-sufficiency through employment. The Families First program helps participants reach this goal by providing temporary cash assistance, transportation, child care assistance, education, job training, employment activities, and other support services.

Families First Highlights and Services:

Services available as part of the Families First Program – Employment preparation and enhancement services such as vocational education, adult education, post-secondary education, job skills training as well as supportive services such as cash assistance, child care assistance, family focused solutions, counseling and other supports.

The Personal Responsibility Plan is an agreement between the individual and the Tennessee Department of Human Services. This document outlines the requirements necessary to support the family and move toward self-sufficiency including but not limited to:

  • Maintaining child health checks, immunizations, school attendance and progress
  • Working with Child Support Services to collect child support
  • Working with Employment and Case Management Services and/or a vocational rehabilitation counselor and take part in work or training activities for 30 hours per week
  • Child-only cases – This is a special category of Families First assistance. When a child lives with a relative who is not his or her parent, the adult may choose to be excluded from the case. This means their income will not be considered when determining eligibility for their related children and the individual will not be required to participate in a work and/or educational activity.

Families First benefits are limited to 60 months over your lifetime unless you are a relative caring for related children (see Child Only case above).

Unless you are exempt from the 30-hour work requirement, an Employment and Case Management Specialist will help you develop a Family Assessment Plan (FEP). The FEP is a strength based plan that focuses on the family’s progress from a Two-Generation Approach throughout the life of the case to ensure services are tailored to best address the family's strengths and needs.

Applying for Services:
Tennesseans may apply for Families First benefits at their local Department of Human Services county office or by applying online using the Family Assistance (FA) Online application.

Applications are available in English, Spanish, Arabic and Somali.

printable application form is also available on the Department of Human Services website. You can print and complete this application and submit it to your local DHS officein person, by fax, or by mail. After submitting your application, you will receive an appointment for an interview. At this interview, you may also discuss eligibility for SNAP/Food Stamps and the Child Care Certificate Program. If you are interested in TennCare/Medicaid, you will be assisted in applying at the DHS county office.