Research-To-Practice Brief

State TANF Policies During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic created sudden, substantial hardships for many families with low incomes and unprecedented challenges for the operation of benefit programs. Families combining work and TANF when the pandemic began could have lost earnings, while non-working TANF recipients may have become unable to meet other activity requirements, and families who were previously economically stable and ineligible for TANF may have become newly eligible for cash assistance. Agencies administering benefit programs had to determine how to adjust program rules during state program office closures while continuing to meet families’ evolving needs. This Urban Institute brief provides a graphical overview of selected TANF policy changes states made, including information about changes to work and activity requirements, sanctions, time limits, benefit computation policies, and treatment of unemployment insurance benefits.

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