Department of Human Services

Families First Online Policy Manual

Work Requirements




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TANF regulations provide strict definitions for each countable work activity.  Families First follow these TANF guidelines.  A minimum of 20 hours per week must be spent in Core work activities.  Only the following Core work activities will be countable PRP activities. 


·        Unsubsidized Work is defined as full or part-time employment in the public or private sector that is not subsidized by FF or any other public program.  This may include self-employment or on-the-job training.


·        Job Search and Job Readiness Assistance is defined as the act of seeking or obtaining employment, preparation to seek or obtain employment, including life skills training, and substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment or rehabilitation activities. 


This activity is time-limited to 4 consecutive weeks or 360 hours in the preceding 12-month period for “needy states,” a definition which Tennessee currently meets.  Following the 4 consecutive weeks, a 1 week break is required prior to resuming Job Search and Job Readiness. 


Note:  If a client is participating in FSC activities, the total number of FSC activity hours can be countable toward Job Search/Job Readiness hours if the client chooses this option and has not exhausted the 4 consecutive week limitation or the 360 hours limitation.  Bulletin 37, FA-08-28


·        Work Experience is defined as work performed in return for cash assistance that provides an individual with the opportunity to acquire the general skills, training, knowledge, and work habits necessary to obtain employment.


·        Community Service is defined as a structured program in which FF participants perform work for the direct benefit of the community under the auspices of public or non-profit organizations.


·        Vocational Education is defined as an organized educational program that is directly related to the preparation of individuals for employment in current or emerging occupations. 


Time assigned to Vocational Education is limited to 12 months in a lifetime.  In addition, no more than 30% of the FF caseload can be enrolled in Vocational Education at a given time.


Note: Clients who are participating in a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree program (as well as two-year degree programs and vocational certificate programs) or a post-secondary program that results in a vocation-specific diploma or certificate (such as nursing), may count this program as a core activity under vocational education, if the client has not exhausted the Voc Ed 12-month limit. 


·        Subsidized Employment is defined as employment in the public or private sector for which the employer receives a subsidy from FF or other public funds to offset some or all of the wages and costs of employing a recipient.  The recipient is paid wages and receives the same benefits as a non-subsidized employee who performs similar work.



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