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TANF Benefits


Many families we work with are raising children who are not their own. Often they are a grandparent, aunt, unlce or older sibling.  In most cases it is a grandparent who is struggling to get by on a limited Social Security benefit.  State policy permits a relative (called a caretaker relative) to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) on behalf of the child.  The caretaker relative has to be related to child by blood, adoption or marriage. This means a step parent or step sibling is able to receive benefits for the child they are raising.  Guardianship is not required to receive TANF for a related minor child.  State policy that supports this can be found in PM 03-05-03*.  The family DOES have to prove relationship to the child.  Documentation such as court papers, birth certificates that create the link from the child to the person applying, census or medical records can all be used.  The state lists some of the documents that can be used to prove relation in WAG -3-05-01*.  In most cases the caretaker relative has an income to support themselves and they only need help to support the child. Since the application is only for the child, the family does not have to complete a Responsibility and Service Plan [RSP] (PM 02-09-01)* and is not affected by the 60 month lifetime limit (PM 03-06-00). More importantly the grandparent's, or other relative's income is not used to determine if the child can receive TANF.

*For more information on the rules discussed in this article check out the state website at read the complete policy manul references.

Source:  Article written by Kathryn Nelson of the DuPage Federation on Human Services Reform, affiliated with Northern Illinois University, Center for Governmental Studies.


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