Release 84:  Effective January 1, 2017

A.  Program Intent and Overview


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  1. Program intent
  2. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides case management and cash assistance to low-income families with minor children. It is designed to promote personal responsibility and accountability for parents. The goal of the program is to reduce the number of families living in poverty through employment services and community resources.

    TANF benefits are intended to help low-income Oregonians meet basic needs for daily living such as food, clothing, shelter and utilities. Most TANF benefits are issued via an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card. This is also known as the Oregon Trail Card.

    TANF benefits may not be used in any EBT transaction or accessed in any EBT transaction in a:

    The restrictions on using or accessing TANF benefits in an EBT transaction apply when TANF benefits are used or accessed in Oregon, outside Oregon or on Tribal lands. These restrictions also apply to using or accessing TANF case benefits from a private bank account.

      In the REF, SFPSS and TANF programs, Central Office will track reports of use or access of cash benefits in any EBT transaction in the locations listed above. For the first instance that cash benefits are reported to have been used or accessed in one of these locations, Central Office will send notice to the client that another instance will result in an overpayment. ( A copy of the notice will be sent to the case manager and local program manager. The case manager will contact the family for a conversation about the family situation and locations where TANF cash benefits may be used or accessed.) For any subsequent reported use or access at one of these locations, Central Office will notify the Overpayment Unit.

    While use of or access to TANF benefits in an EBT transaction is limited as described above, the department is also required by federal law to ensure TANF clients have adequate access to their cash benefits. “Adequate access” to TANF benefits is determined on a case-by-case basis and may vary depending on individual client strengths and barriers, including access to transportation.

    When a TANF client expresses concern with access to their cash benefits or a worker determines a TANF client does not have adequate access to benefits, the worker must take reasonable steps to ensure adequate access.  This may include issuing TANF benefits via direct deposit into the client’s bank account or issuing TANF benefits via paper check.

    Legal Status of Benefit Payments Rule
    461-165-0010 —Legal Status of Benefit Payments

  3. Program overview
  4. In 1935, the Social Security Act was passed. Its passage made it possible for states to use federal money to assist the aged, the blind and children who were deprived of parental support. There are 21 titles in the Act, many of which have been repealed over the years. Title IV-A is the specific provision that gives grants to states for aid and services to needy families with dependent children. These grants are better known as federal matching funds to participating states.

    To receive matching funds from the federal government, states must follow federal laws and regulations. Congress introduces changes and passes laws. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a federal agency, sets regulations and monitors the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for states that receive federal funds for its administration. Besides federal laws and regulations, the program also follows the respective state’s statutes on policies that are not specifically addressed by their federal counterparts.

    The TANF program has undergone numerous changes since it officially began in 1937. The changes are usually made as a result of the economic, political and social changes in our country. They often reflect the various attitudes and thoughts on poverty and welfare dependency. These attitudes and thoughts have affected laws and brought forth further changes to the program, not only in Oregon but also in other states.

    Under TANF, states are given the flexibility to design their welfare programs according to their own needs. However, there are a few prohibitions. For example:

    With previously approved waivers from the federal government, Oregon has been making changes to its welfare programs for the last few years. TANF was a welcome change. It allowed us to continue with the changes we requested under the Oregon Option waiver and make other changes that we think necessary to help clients reach their goal of self-sufficiency. Oregon is on track with its goals and mission with welfare reform. Not only are we able to help our clients find jobs, we are also able to help our clients to keep their jobs or find better employment.

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