Workforce Services

TANF Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is TEA?

TEA stands for Transitional Employment Assistance. The program provides Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) in order to: reduce the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting work so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives, prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and promote family unity.

2. What is the purpose of TEA?

The purpose of the TEA program is to help needy families become economically self-sufficient by giving them opportunities to obtain and retain employment in order to increase family income and assets and improve the quality of life for parents and children.

3. Who is eligible to apply for TEA benefits?

An applicant must meet all of these requirements:

Be a resident of the state of Arkansas

Be a US citizen, national, legal alien or permanent resident

Qualify as a low-income family

Be responsible for a child under the age of eighteen

4. Who makes up a TEA family or TEA Assistance Unit?

All non-SSI children under the age of 18 for whom application is made; AND

Married or unmarried parent(s), including minor parents, living in the home with the child, UNLESS such parent receives SSI benefits;

The non-SSI step-parent living in the home with the child;

Any non-SSI sibling of the child for whom the application is made. The sibling must be under the age of 18 and reside in the same household. A parent

or adult caretaker must have responsibility for the sibling even if a TEA application is not made for such sibling;

A non-parent, non-SSI adult caretaker relative who chooses to be included as an eligible family member. Only one such relative may be included.

5. Do I have to have a child in my home to be eligible for TEA?

Yes. You must be responsible for a child under the age of eighteen who lives in your household.

6. How can I find out if I qualify for TEA?

Obtain an application from your local Department of Human Services (DHS) County office. They will provide assistance with completing the form, if needed, and will schedule and conduct a face-to-face interview to determine further eligibility.

7. What is meant by “low-income”?

The term means that a family is not able to afford some of the services that could support them and can therefore qualify for assistance.

8. What documentation do I need to apply for TEA assistance?

Proof of identity and age (driver’s license, birth certificate, voter registration)

Social Security numbers for all members to be included in your TEA family/unit or proof that you have applied for them

Proof that your children are related to you and proof of their ages (birth certificates, school records, medical records)

If you are a single parent, proof that the other parent of your children is deceased or not living with you (divorce records, death certificate, sworn statement)

Proof of immigration status, if you are not a U.S. citizen

Proof of income (pay stubs, government checks)

Proof that you are not eligible for unemployment compensation

Proof of housing expenses (rent receipts, mortgage)

Proof of address (landlord’s statement, utility records)

Proof of immunization for all pre-school age children

Other documents, as needed. These will be identified to you by your case worker.

9. How long does it take to process an application?

Once all needed documents have been received, applications are processed no later than thirty calendar days from the date the application was filed in the county office.

10. How long can I receive TEA benefits?

A family who meets all eligibility requirements may receive TEA cash assistance benefits for a period of up to 24 total months. The months counted are based on receipt of benefits by the adult recipient or “head of household” minor parent.

11. How much money will I receive?

A family’s monthly payment amount is based on family size. The maximum payment a family may receive is the payment level for the particular family size. All eligible TEA family members will be included in the family size for payment, except a child who is not eligible for payment due to the family cap provision.

12. I heard I will have to sign a Personal Responsibility Agreement. What is that?

The Personal Responsibility Agreement (PRA) is an agreement that provides the responsibilities that the applicant must comply with while receiving cash assistance. It is reviewed with the applicant and/or accompanying adult during the interview. The responsibilities include:

Cooperation with the Office of Child Support Enforcement

Ensuring school age children are in school

Ensuring that pre-school children receive appropriate immunizations

Participation in work requirements, if applicable

13. I am unemployed. Can I still quality for TEA assistance?

You do not have to be employed to be eligible for TEA assistance. Upon approval, all able-bodied adult family members are required to work or participate in work activities designed to lead to employment. All minor parents are required to participate in educational activities. Exceptions require an agency-approved exemption or deferral.

14. How much money can I make and still receive help?

It is possible to have some income and still qualify for assistance.

15. I own my house. Will that make me ineligible?

The family’s homestead is not considered in determining TEA eligibility. The family must presently reside on the property or reside on the property within six months from the date of the TEA application or the date of purchase – whichever is later. Only one such tract will be considered a homestead. There is no limit to the acreage or number of lots, so long as the property is contiguous. Any other dwelling units or apartments on the property will be considered a part of the homestead.

16. I don’t want ongoing cash assistance. Is there something else I am eligible for on a one-time basis to help me get on my feet?

You may be eligible for Diversion Assistance. Diversion Assistance is a one-time payment to or on behalf of a family which will resolve a financial problem so the adult can maintain and/or obtain employment. It is not a supplement to regular assistance but is in place of it. The eligibility requirements for Diversion Assistance are as follows:

A minor child must live in the home

The adult has never received a Diversion Assistance payment

The Diversion Assistance amount will alleviate the crisis

The adult is currently employed but having a problem that jeopardizes the employment or has been promised a job but needs help in order to accept the job

The adult signs a Diversion Assistance Agreement, agreeing to forego regular TEA cash assistance for a period of 100 days from the date of application

17. Are there any work requirements?

Yes. TEA participants are required to search for and obtain paid employment. Individuals who cannot find immediate paid employment can participate in approved activities that focus on development of skills and experience that lead directly to employment.

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