Fact Sheet 10: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families


Racist, negative narratives have been used as justification for discriminatory public welfare policies that claim people of color are lazy and unambitious. To better support communities in need, advocates for equity must call for the removal of discriminatory language and practices from federal policies.

“Communities of color derive as much dignity through work and take pride in their ability to provide for themselves and their families as other racial and ethnic groups.”

“The evidence supports that cash assistance helps to reduce poverty, while simultaneously stimulating the economy.”


  • From the beginning, welfare has inadequately served families of color in both policy and implementation. Though it was never overtly stated, race has always been a central criterion in deciding who is “deserving” of aid.
  • States with larger Black populations tend to have less generous benefits and eligibility limits, provide Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grants for a shorter period of time, and have more harsh sanctions. Advocates cannot allow implicit biases and prejudices to dictate the opportunities granted to families of color.