Families First is Tennessee’s welfare program that provides temporary cash benefits to eligible low-income families with children.
These benefits will be limited to 60 months of eligibility in a lifetime, with some exceptions for the elderly, disabled persons, and children under age 18.
To be eligible for the program, you must sign a Personal Responsibility Plan (PRP) which among other things, you must agree to:
- work or participate in work-related activities for 30 hours a week, unless exempt;
- cooperate with child support requirements;
- ensure that your children stay in school and receive regular health checks and immunization shots.
Do I qualify for Families First? #
In order to qualify for Families First, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Be a U.S. citizen or legal alien, or permanent resident who live in Tennessee.
- Be either pregnant, disabled, elderly, or uninsurable.
- Be responsible for a child under 19 years of age.
- Be unemployed or under employed (working for very low wages).
- Have an income equal to or less than the consolidated need standards as shown below.
What is the income limit for TANF in Tennessee? #
In Tennessee, a family is considered “needy” when their net countable income (after allowable exclusions and deductions) is less than $1,752 a month for a family of three. The limit for countable resources is $2,000.
- Family Size Income Limit
- 1 $976
- 2 $1,370
- 3 $1,549
- 4 $1,752
- 5 $1,885
- 6 $2,009
- 7 $2,121
- 8 $2,224
How much is TANF in Tennessee? #
How much money you get for TANF in Tennessee largely depends on several factors including your family’s income, household size, and other criteria.
Tennessee pays a maximum of $387 a month to a family of three with very little income, which is among the lowest in the nation.
If you need short-term help rather than long-term ongoing cash assistance, you may request for one lump-sum payment through the Families First Diversion Payments.
The diversion payment amount will be calculated on a case-by-case basis based on the amount of the monthly benefit you are eligible to receive, capped at a maximum of twelve (12) months.
How do I sign up for Families First? #
Tennesseans may apply for Families First benefits at the local Department of Human Services county office. Click here for a list of county offices locations and phone numbers for which to submit your application, or
For expedited processing, apply online at
One DHS Customer Portal
Families First cash assistance benefits are issued and accessed electronically using a Benefit Security Card or EBT Card which can be used wherever EBT is accepted.