Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

What is the purpose of this service?

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides temporary financial assistance for pregnant women and families with one or more dependent children. TANF provides financial assistance to help pay for food, shelter, utilities, and expenses other than medical.

Who can receive these services?

To qualify for TANF, a person must:

  • Be pregnant or have a child under age 19 who lives with them. A child who is 18 must be a full-time high school student. A pregnant woman (and her husband, if he lives with her) may qualify for help, even if they don't have any other children.
  • Live in Illinois. You can be homeless and still qualify.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or meet certain immigration requirements.
  • Develop a plan for becoming self-sufficient and follow it.

What services are offered?

  • Time-limited cash assistance for basic needs, such as food, clothing, housing, etc.
  • Transitional services to help families become independent, such as GED preparation, vocational training, postsecondary education, vocational rehabilitation, classes in basic English, help with child care, work stipends, job retention services, etc.
  • Screening for issues related to substance abuse, mental health, and domestic violence, and referrals for available services to address them.

A person who gets TANF may also get medical assistance and SNAP benefits.

How to Apply?

A person may apply for TANF online or at a local office that serves the area where they live. Use the DHS Office Locator to help find the nearest Family Community Reource Center. A person who applies and is determined eligible for benefits receives their cash and SNAP benefits through Illinois Link Benefits.

Apply for Cash, SNAP (Food Stamps) and Medical Assistance

More Information & Resources

DHS Office Locator

DHS Help Line

  • 1-800-843-6154
  • 1-800-447-6404 TTY