Young Adults and TANF: Rethinking Work Activities

While cash assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant is not commonly thought of as a “youth-serving” program, the reality is that one-quarter of adult recipients of TANF benefits are under age 25. Many states offer targeted services for the 4.5 percent of TANF parents who are teens; however, the larger group of young adult parents is typically treated like all other recipients.

This is a missed opportunity to address the educational and developmental needs of young parents and their children. This brief disucsses how the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), enacted in 2014, presents an opportunity to address these young parents’ needs by expanding the focus on disadvantaged young adults and supporting closer partnerships between TANF and workforce programs.