Intake is the initial process of application, information gathering, outreach, and coordinating services to meet client needs, with the result of sometimes diverting them from TANF to other services altogether. Intake processes determine individuals' eligibility for services, frequently determining whether they are qualified for additional safety-net programs, such as Food Stamps or Medicaid. Diversion services target immediate TANF participant needs and provide short-term support designed to prevent long-term TANF involvement. Intake also includes a connection to child support enforcement, a vital aspect of ensuring children receive proper support, including financial and medical, from both parents.

As the first step in providing TANF services, intake is vital for serving clients, as well as for fulfilling and adhering to Federal mandates and guidelines. State and Federal regulations must be followed to determine eligibility of individuals and families to receive TANF services. The overall goal of the intake process is to gain information from clients in order to serve them, and use the State's resources as efficiently as possible to enable clients to become self-sufficient.