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The current Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was reauthorized in February 2006. This particular program is a major source of single mother assistance programs and took the place of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Through this program, the United States government provides money to the individual states for single mother assistance programs and the individual states decide how the money should be spent within that state. Each state has the authority to set its own eligibility requirements.
Though there are a few exemptions, most individuals who apply for single mother assistance programs must be eligible to work and/or actively seeking work. Most states require that those who receive TANF funds need to be working within two years of their acceptance into the program. The general rule is that single mother assistance programs will cease after sixty months, though many states will have varying rules as to how long individuals and/or the children can continue to receive funding.
Additional segments of the program can also provide single mother assistance programs in the area of child care. As with other TANF provisions, each state establishes its own set of criteria for eligibility and length of time that a single mother can obtain this assistance. It is possible that a single mother could be eligible for certain benefits in one state, move and be ineligible for benefits in her new home state.
Through the United States Office of Health and Human Services, the administration of Children and Families also sponsors the Healthy Marriage Initiative (HMI). This program grants funds to agencies that can provide programs to strengthen families. Depending on the geographic location of the single mother, assistance programs can be found to provide counseling to couples considering marriage. Other programs may help a single mother obtain the job skills that are needed to obtain employment and self-sufficiency.
It is possible that a family can continue to receive assistance if the mother marries while she is receiving help from the state. Any woman who is considering marriage, or cohabitation, will need to check with the agency through which she obtained the initial assistance, to learn how her marriage could possibly affect the familyís aid.
When TANF was originally enacted, in 1996, many people believed that hundreds, if not thousands, of children would be without assistance of any kind. In the years since the program has been established, many states have improved the lives of single motherís and their children. Some states have done better than others. Any woman who is moving to another state and might be eligible for assistance is advised to investigate that stateís policies and programs before moving.
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