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How Do TANF Policies Support Families Experiencing Homelessness?


Highlights

  • HHS wants TANF programs to better identify, assess, and serve homeless families.
  • Abt is helping HHS understand how TANF agencies across the country are serving families.
  • The project is scheduled to produce a final report between mid-2019 and early 2020.
The Challenge

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a key component in supporting self-sufficiency among families, including those experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF), in recognition of the integral role TANF can play in family stability, has encouraged TANF programs to identify and implement approaches to better identify, assess, and serve homeless families. As a block grant program, TANF gives wide latitude for state and local innovation in serving eligible populations, including homeless families.

The Approach

Abt Associates, in partnership with MEF Associates, is carryout out the How TANF Agencies Support Families Experiencing Homelessness project for ACF’s Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. This project is assisting HHS in understanding the extent to which TANF agencies across the country are serving families experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. It also will document the approaches and strategies used by TANF agencies to serve these families.

The project aims to provide a broad sense of the extent to which TANF agencies are explicitly choosing to serve and support homeless and at-risk families using TANF funds. The project will include:

  • TANF Document Review – This study will conduct a systematic review of 25 state and territory TANF plans and policy documents;
  • TANF Administrator Survey – Abt Associates will administer an online survey to learn about state and county TANF programs’ overall philosophies toward addressing family homelessness and the extent to which TANF funds, assessments, tools, additional services, and partners are used in these efforts; and
  • Site visits to TANF agencies – The study team will visit five TANF agencies to conduct interviews with TANF office staff, convene focus groups of TANF participants, observe orientation or intake sessions with clients, and interview representatives from relevant homelessness organization partners, including Continuums of Care.
The Results

The project is scheduled to produce three short research briefs and a final report between mid-2019 and early 2020.