Illinois Financial Assistance Program: TANF

Illinois Financial Assistance Program: TANF

Sarah L. Bromley

by Sarah L. Bromley
Contributing Writer

August 13, 2021
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Illinois Financial Assistance Program: TANF

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Overcoming financial difficulties and caring for a family at the same time is a hard burden to bear, but programs like Illinois Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) can give you the assistance you need to get through the tough times.

If you’re wondering if you’re eligible, how to apply, and whether to sign up, you’re in the right place — we’ll outline all this and more.

What is TANF?

At its core, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides financial aid and support to families in need. This will typically be around $500 a month, but the exact amount depends on your financial circumstances and how many children you have.

But it’s not just economic support that you could receive. There are a range of other benefits, from help with utility bills to services related to the education, training, and mental health of parents.

You’ll also have access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to ensure your family has sufficient food.

However, it doesn’t provide help with medical expenses.

Eligibility requirements

As you now know , the TANF program is only for families who are in a poor financial situation.

More specifically, applicants must:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen (or a resident meeting immigration requirements)
  2. Be an Illinois resident (including the homeless)
  3. Have a child under the age of 18 or be pregnant
  4. Be unemployed, underemployed, or have a low income.

The exact threshold for what constitutes a low income is always changing and depends on a number of factors, including the size of your family, so it’s best to verify this with a caseworker beforehand if you’re in doubt (find the contact details in the section below).

Also, note that children aged 18-19 must be in full-time education to qualify.

Don’t meet one or more of these criteria? There’s no need to panic — you might be able to find assistance and grants from other federal or Illinois-run organizations.

How to apply for Illinois TANF

There are two ways to apply for TANF: you can either go to your local Family Community Resource Center or fill out the application online.

You can also check out the form you’ll need to fill beforehand to ensure you have everything you need to complete the process.

After applying, a caseworker will be in touch with you to carry out an interview and ask for proof of your financial situation and the identity of you and your children. Within 45 days, you’ll find out whether your application was successful (but even if it’s rejected, you can still appeal).

If you have any doubts about the process or your eligibility, you can also contact a representative on the helpline: 1 800 843-6154 or 1 800 447-6404.

Don’t delay getting help

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that you’d benefit from the help and resources on offer. Why not take the final step by using the assistance available?

Applying for TANF isn’t difficult, and it can make a tangible difference to the future of your family. What have you got to lose?