Families First

Families First, the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, is a workforce development and employment program. The Families First program emphasizes work, training, and personal responsibility. 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 temporary cash assistance, transportation, child care assistance, educational supports, job training, employment activities, and other support services. Eligibility information can be found here

You can apply for many of our services online.

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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, in the One DHS Customer Portal.

If you do not already have a One DHS Account you will need to create one to access services (e.g. CaseConnect and the Families First application.) Click here for more detail on setting up an account.

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
1-866-311-4287 (Toll-free)

Family Assistance Website and Call Center Graphic

If you are applying for Families First benefits, the documents listed below may be needed to complete the application process.


  • Social Security Card Number ( For all household members, SS5 form for newborns)
  • Your Identification (Example: driver's license, school ID with photo, Passport, Resident Alien Card, I-94 card, voter's registration card)
  • Citizenship (Example: Birth Certification, U.S. Passport, Certificate of naturalization, Certificate of U.S Citizenship, hospital records, U. S Citizen I.D. Card, adoption papers, military records, INS (Immigration) papers)
  • Household Relationship ( Example: Birth certificate)
  • Age ( Example: Birth certificate, hospital records, baptismal records, school records)
  • Where you live (Example: lease agreement, utility bill, phone bill, or driver’s license with your address on it)  
  • Earned Income (Example: check stubs, employer statement, award letters, W-2 forms)
  • Unearned Income (Examples: child support, social security, unemployment, disability)
  • Resources (Example: bank accounts, certificates of deposit, savings bonds, property, automobiles, recreational vehicles)
  • School Attendance/Grades ( For any dependent child for which you wish to receive assistance)
  • Immunizations and Health Checks ( For any dependent child for which you wish to receive assistance)

You may be asked to provide more information during your interview. Your eligibility counselor will explain what information is needed, how to get it and help you if you need assistance.

Applying for services and uploading documents using the One DHS Customer Portal or resources at a TDHS office can reduce the application processing times. Customers who choose to mail information to TDHS as part of the application, verification or reporting process should send copies of personal records and avoid sending original documents as submitted documents may not be returned.  

Customer Chat 

Need help finding the right information? Click the chat icon in the red circle located in the lower right corner of this screen to find many answers related to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs(SNAP), Families First Program and contact information.

Preventing, Reporting and Stopping EBT Theft and Fraud

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is here to ensure Tennesseans have the tools they need to become financially stable and uses Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to deliver benefits. Unfortunately, some criminals are willing to use card skimming and other tactics to steal aid meant to help families on their way to financial stability. Customers and businesses that use and accept benefits using EBT cards are strongly encouraged to review preventative measures and reporting practices to stop the theft of benefits. Click Here to learn how to prevent, report and stop EBT theft and fraud.


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. If you have questions about FFS or are interested in FFS, please reach out to your TANF Case Manager.

Reports and Information:

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

TANF State Plan

TN WIOA 2023 Combined Plan Completion Letter

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.