Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
What is TANF and who can receive it? 

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, is a program through Colorado Works that replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children and provides monthly cash benefits to eligible low-income families with children. In order to be eligible for TANF, kinship caregivers must provide verification of their responsibility to the child/youth in their “care and control.” Caregivers are not eligible to apply for TANF if the county department has custody of the child and is providing foster care reimbursement.

There are two ways that kinship caregivers can receive TANF: 

Child only benefits: Caregivers receive cash benefits for the child/youth in their care, but not for themselves. The county department eligibility worker does not consider the household income or assets, and the work requirements or time limits do not apply. The child remains eligible until age 18 or leaves the home. If the child receives income (like Social Security benefits from a deceased parent) it affects eligibility or the amount of a child only TANF grant. If the Social Security benefit is higher than the TANF benefit, then the child/youth is not be eligible to receive TANF. Currently the TANF grant is a minimum of $128 per child. Some counties increase the amount in their TANF plan. Child only benefits are not time limited.  

Caregiver and child benefits: The second way to receive TANF is when the caregiver applies to become part of the grant. The county department eligibility worker will consider the household income and assets to determine if the caregiver and the child/youth are eligible for TANF. The grant amount will be higher because the grant will cover both the caregiver and the child/youth. The work requirements and time limits will apply, and training opportunities may be available. Caregivers receiving this type of grant will be required to work or look for work, and the time period to receive benefits is limited to 60 months (5 years). There may be exceptions to these rules, so it may be helpful to discuss the circumstances with the eligibility worker. Under certain circumstances, families may also be eligible for supportive services and diversion grants. Each of the 64 counties in Colorado develops their own TANF plan and caregivers will need to talk with a county eligibility worker to determine what is available. If a child/youth receives SSI (Supplemental Security

Income) because of a mental or physical disability, the child is not included in the family’s TANF grant. Here is an example. A child, named Bill, has cerebral palsy and meets the income guidelines so that he is eligible for SSI.  He is eligible for Medicaid because of his disability. If Bill is in kinship care with other siblings, he is not included in the TANF grant for his siblings.

Besides the income and resources criteria, are there other conditions to receive TANF?

Yes. A child/youth must have been immunized and verification of the immunization record must be provided. Verification can be obtained from medical records, the child/youth’s doctor, or the health department where the immunizations were administered.  In order for youth 16 to 18 years of age to receive TANF benefits, they must attend school full-time or be in an approved training program, which can be confirmed by the county eligibility worker. Caregivers must cooperate with their county’s Child Support Enforcement Unit efforts to locate both parents of the child/youth receiving TANF benefits. The Child Support Enforcement Unit’s attorney will petition the court to order the parents to pay child support to the state to reimburse TANF. Advise the county eligibility worker if there is good cause not to contact the parents, such as abuse and domestic violence issues that would put the caregiver or the child/youth at risk.

Where do I apply for TANF?

You can apply at your county department or online using the Program Eligibility Application Kit (PEAK) portal. If applying at the county department, appointments are not needed to get an application. When getting the application, ask about scheduling an appointment with an eligibility worker who will be assigned to assist with the application process. Caregivers may also ask if there is someone available to help complete the application if help is needed. If applying online, applications are accepted at https://peak.state.co.us/selfservice. The timeframe for scheduling an appointment varies. Obtain the eligibility worker’s name and the office phone number in case there are questions or an appointment must be changed. It is important to apply as soon as possible because eligibility for TANF and other benefits begins the date the application was submitted. Caregivers need to apply in their county of residence. Sometimes when the department places a child with a relative, it is confusing to know where to apply. For example, Sasha lived in Jefferson County with her mother until Sasha was removed from her mother’s home and placed with her grandmother in Denver County. Her grandmother needs TANF child only benefits to help support Sasha’s care. Sasha’s grandmother must apply for TANF benefits in Denver County because that is where the caregiver lives. Please see additional resources at the end of the guide for a listing of all county TANF locations and phone numbers.

What should I bring with me when I apply for TANF?

Bring as much information as possible, because the more information given, the faster the application can be processed. Your eligibility worker may assist in getting necessary information you may have difficulty obtaining, such as the child’s birth certificate or immunization record. 

If applying for a child only grant, you may need the following information:
  • A photo I.D., such as a driver’s license;
  • A rent receipt, house payment book, or lease with the landlord’s name and phone number in order to verify your current address as a resident in the county;
  • A birth certificate for each child/youth showing parent’s name and the date and place of birth;
  • Marriage certificates if applicable;
  • Social Security cards for the child/youth if you have them. If you have the Social Security numbers and not the cards, bring those with you; and
  • A statement from the childcare provider showing his/her name and address, the amount paid, and how often it is paid. This may be helpful in obtaining childcare benefits.
If you want to be included in the assistance grant, you must also bring the following information to verify your income and resources:
  • Recent bank statements;
  • Pay stubs covering a period of one month, if you have a job;
  • Information about stocks and bonds, if applicable; and,
  • A birth certificate to show citizenship or legal presence.
What happens after I apply?

Your county department must determine eligibility for TANF within 45 days of the application date.  A letter will be sent stating whether you are eligible or not for benefits, the amount of the benefit, and when you may expect to receive it. If the county department has not reached a decision within 45 days, you have a right to request a fair hearing before a hearing examiner. Request this in writing to the eligibility worker or his/her supervisor and keep a copy. The hearing process is also available if you disagree with the eligibility decision made by the county department. An applicant or recipient who disagrees with a proposed action (such as denial of benefits) has the right to:

1st step: File an appeal

2nd step (if applicable): Options if dissatisfied with decision of appeal

county level using the local level dispute resolution conference.

(or)

A state level fair hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Request state level fair hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

(or)

There may be a judicial review of the final agency decision in the appropriate state district court.

If you are receiving benefits at the time a conference or fair hearing is requested, benefits will continue until the outcome of the state level fair hearing and final agency decision if the request for a conference or hearing was made before the effective date of the proposed action (i.e. reduction of benefits).

More information about appeal rights is located in the Colorado Department of Human Services Staff Manual Section 3.830-24 – 3.850.9, and can be reviewed at the county department office or online at http://www.sos.state.co.us.

During this process, if you are uncomfortable with the responsiveness of the county staff, you may ask to speak to a supervisor.

What are my rights and obligations if I receive TANF?

Caregivers are required to submit a Monthly Status Report (MSR) stating all income and resources and the number of people in the family. The MSR will also apply if a caregiver is receiving child only benefits. If this report is not submitted by the schedule established in the county, benefits may be terminated.

Caregivers must enter into an Individual Responsibility Contract (IRC) with their county department. The eligibility worker will explain it to you.  

Caregivers will be asked to cooperate in finding the parents of the child/youth so that Child Support Enforcement can establish a child support order. Caregivers have the right to advise the eligibility worker if there are circumstances that would put them or the child/youth in danger if the county department contacts the child’s parent.  

Once receiving TANF, the county department must notify caregivers ten (10) days in advance if their payment will be reduced or terminated, unless the decrease or discontinuance is because of information reported in the MSR. Caregivers have the right to know why their benefits are being reduced or terminated. If they are not notified timely, or if they disagree with the change, they have the right to a fair hearing as described above. If at all possible, try to request a hearing through the county eligibility worker or supervisor before the effective date of the change or within ten (10) days after receiving a notice of any change.