Families First

Families First, the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, is a workforce development and employment program. It is temporary and has a primary focus on gaining self-sufficiency through employment. The Families First program helps participants reach this goal by providing transportation, child care assistance, education, job training, employment activities, and other support services. Temporary cash assistance is also provided to families with dependent children when at least one parent is incapacitated, unemployed, deceased, or absent from the home, and the family is unable to pay for essential living expenses.

Customer Engagement Survey

To be eligible for the program, participants must meet technical and financial eligibility standards and must agree to follow a Personal Responsibility Plan (PRP). As part of the PRP, the participants agree to keep immunizations and health checks up-to-date for their children, to keep their children in school, to cooperate with child support services and, if not exempt, to participate in work and/or training for at least 30 hours per week. 

Current Families First recipients can find information on their Families First case with CaseConnect.

If you do not already have a TDHS account, you will need to create one to access services (e.g. CaseConnect).

Families First cash assistance benefits are issued and accessed electronically using a Benefit Security Card or EBT Card. To apply for benefits, submit your application online or visit the local DHS county office.

Under Federal law, it is illegal for you to use your EBT card at the following locations: liquor stores, casinos, adult cabarets (strip clubs), and licensed retail stores that derive their largest sales from the following items:

  • loose tobacco
  • cigars, cigarettes and pipes
  • other smoking accessories

The Tennessee Department of Human Services has increased monitoring EBT card usage and enforcement. Effective July 1, 2014 additional penalties will apply if benefits are misused. Restricted businesses are also subject to penalties.


Contact Information:

Common Questions, Email, and Live Chat

Family Assistance Service Center
615-743-2000 (Nashville area)
1-866-311-4287 (Toll free)

Learn more about:

Tennessee EBT Cash Access Locations

Family Assistance program informational training

Federal Student Aid

Enroll a child in the Imagination Library

Family Focused Solutions

Family Focused Solutions  (FFS) is a voluntary support service that is provided by agencies who are contracted with the Tennessee  Department of Human Service (DHS).  The purpose of FFS is to assist TANF clients with removing barriers to employment and education. Whether it’s a referral or a direct service, FFS will provide you with a counselor that will collaborate with you as you take your next step to self-sufficiency.

What can Family Focused Solutions do for You? 

Life comes with challenges for everyone.  By partnering with FFS, you will be well on your way to achieving your life long goals. You will guide the focus of services with your counselor who will assist and encourage you to build on your strengths throughout your journey.

Learn more, by clicking here.  Look here to find a provider near you: Family Focused Solutions Providers

Reports and Information:

Families First Policy Manual

Families First was created as part of the larger Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 (commonly referred to as “welfare reform”). It replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program and is the federal funding source for Tennessee’s TANF Program.

The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 set forth new reporting requirements for States as it extended the funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) financial assistance program through September 30, 2011. Sec. 812 Modifications to TANF Data Reporting specifies that new reporting requirements for engagement in additional work activities be published on each state's website.

Report on Engagement - April to June 2011

Tennessee TANF State Plan


In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Under the Food Stamp Act and USDA policy, discrimination is prohibited also on the basis of religion or political beliefs.

To file a complaint of discrimination, contact USDA or HHS. Write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 or (202) 720-6382 (TTY). Write HHS, Director, Office for Civil Rights, Room 506-F, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201 or call (202) 619-0403 (voice) or (202) 619-3257 (TDD). USDA and HHS are equal opportunity providers and employers.