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Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

The TANF program provides eligible families with a monthly cash payment to meet their basic needs. For a child to be eligible he must be:

  • Under the age 18, or if 18, but not yet 19, enrolled and attending a secondary school or vocational/technical school of secondary equivalency and is meeting the enrollment and attendance requirements as determined by the local school board
  • Living with a parent or other relative
  • A Virginia resident
  • A U.S. citizen or an eligible immigrant
  • Part of a family in need of financial assistance

The Code of Virginia, §63.2, requires that the TANF program be administered in accordance with federal and state statutes and regulations and policies established by the State Board of Social Services.

Participants may be provided with services such as job skills training, transportation and other work related expenses.

Diversionary Assistance and Emergency Assistance

Diversionary Assistance (DA) and Emergency Assistance (EA) are non-recurring, short-term benefits that may be provided to needy families with children who are eligible for TANF.

  • Diversionary Assistance (DA)
    DA benefits are intended to prevent potential TANF recipients from becoming ongoing TANF recipients. If immediate intervention with short-term aid will resolve a one-time emergency or crisis to prevent the need for ongoing TANF, the assistance unit may be granted Diversionary Assistance. DA may address a short-term need such as food, shelter, medical expenses, childcare expenses or the costs associated with getting or keeping employment, including transportation.
    Eligibility for Diversionary Assistance may only be determined for households applying for TANF. Current recipients of TANF are not eligible for Diversionary Assistance.

  • Emergency Assistance (EA)
    EA may be provided to needy families with children who are eligible for, or are receiving, TANF, when the family has an immediate need resulting from a natural disaster or fire, or to assist with eviction prevention.

  • To apply for DA or EA, an application for the TANF program must be submitted. To complete an application, you may (1) apply online for benefits at; (2) call 855-635-4370; (3) apply in person at your Local Department of Social Services (LDSS); or (4) mail a completed application to your LDSS.

    For more information about DA or EA, please contact your LDSS.

Virginia Initiative for Education and Work (VIEW) Program

VIEW is a program of employment, education, and training opportunities to assist individuals in attaining the goal of developing economic independence. The program goals are to offer Virginians living in poverty the opportunity to:

  • Achieve economic independence by removing barriers and disincentives to work and by providing positive incentives to work;
  • Provide work skills necessary for self-sufficiency;
  • Allow families living in poverty to contribute materially to their own self-sufficiency;
  • Set out the responsibilities of and expectations for recipients of public assistance; and
  • Obtain work experience through the various employment, education and training components of the VIEW program.

Recipients of TANF and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families - Unemployed Parent (TANF-UP) benefits, must participate in the VIEW program as a condition of eligibility, unless otherwise exempt. The TANF-UP program is intended to provide assistance to families with two able-bodied parents.

Full Employment Program

The Full Employment Program (FEP) is a subsidized employment program designed to provide an opportunity for participants to increase self-sufficiency by earning a living wage, increase career-related work skills, and improve their competitiveness in the labor market.

Employment Advancement for TANF Participants Program

Through grants, the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) funds projects under this program. The projects are designed to provide proven service approaches and strategies to help current and former TANF clients to prepare to enter, succeed, and advance in the workplace. The expected outcomes of the project are improved job placement, improved job retention, higher employment wages upon entry, and increased wage gains from job advancement.

Below is a list of current projects. If you see a program in your area and you want to participate or get further information, contact your local department of social services.

Screening for Eligibility & Applying

Methods of Payment



Legal Basis

  • Federal Legal Base - Social Security Act-Title IV-A
  • Federal Regulations Base - 45 CFR Parts 260-265
  • State Legal Base - Code of Virginia, Sections 63.2-600, 63.2-409, 63.2-614
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