Hawaii Financial Assistance programs (TANF & TAONF) Application Information

Hawaii Financial Assistance is a federally funded program, which can be used in the State of Hawaii thanks to Hawaii Department of Human Services - Employment and Support Services division. This program is intended for needy families who are currently living of the income which is under the limit of FPL (Federal Poverty Level). It provides not only financial help, but also some other important services which could be unavailable otherwise. Some of these are child care services, youth assistance initiatives and employment assistance.

Hawaii Financial Assistance can be actually separated into two programs and those are: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Temporary Assistance for Other Needy Families (TAONF). There are slight differences between those two programs and these differences are going to be explained further in this text.

TANF and TAONF are reformed welfare programs which are time-limited and created in order to help very low- and low-income families with children, in order to become self-sufficient through a maximum period of five years. The main difference between these and the old welfare program is that TANF/TAONF requires meeting certain expectations like searching for job, intent to become self-reliable and keeping family safe and stable. If TANF/TAONF enrollees fail to meet these expectations, they can face sanctions or termination of any financial help.

Since the goal of this program is to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency, TANF/TAONF enrollees actually need to go through another preparatory program which prepares candidates for using TANF/TAONF benefits in order to get a job and source of regular income. This is a compliance period prior to approval of benefits and usually lasts for several weeks. The purpose of this preparatory program is to see whether potential enrollees will meet the work participation rates and other mandatory requirements which are created by the federal government. Also, after you've been approved for TANF/TAONF participation, you'll need to meet a criteria for weekly work hours. This criteria depends on your current employment, if you have any. It varies from 20 to 30 hours of work per week. This work is actually referred to as "core activities" and it can include different activities such as:

  • Unsubsidized employment
  • Subsidized private or public sector employment
  • Job search and job readiness
  • Community service
  • On-the-job training
  • Vocational educational training (limited to 12 months)
  • Job skills training directly related to employment
  • Completion of a secondary school program
  • aring for a child of a recipient in community service

Speaking of the difference between TANF and TAONF programs, the only difference is the household composition of the potential participants. Families where all members are U.S. citizens and no child has two legal parents residing in the home, are being associated with TANF, which is a federally funded welfare program. Families which include at least one non-U.S. citizen or in which at least one child has both parents residing in the home are being associated with TAONF, which is state funded welfare program. These are the only differences between these two Hawaii Financial Assistance programs, which means that eligibility, requirements and potential benefits are identical.

TANF/TAONF benefits depend on several factors, which are: family size, earned and unearned income and housing expenses. According to these factors you will be granted a certain amount of monthly income which should help you with your expenses. Even though these amounts can vary, a family of three can approximately expect to have a financial help of $570 per month (which is $6840 per year). You should also know that these payments are processed through EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer). This means that after you've approved for participation in TANF/TAONF you'll get your own debit card which could be used at food retailers through their Point of Sale (POS) or you can directly get the money by using Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). For clients who already got their own bank account, they can choose to have monthly income deposited that way. For more information on EBT program visit http://hawaii.gov/dhs/self-sufficiency/benefit/EBT.

Besides steady financial income, which is very important for families who are struggling with their monthly expenses, TANF/TAONF offers other benefits. These benefits can help parents and children who deal with their own potential problems in order to create a steady family and positive environment. Speaking of additional TANF/TAONF benefits created for parents, those are child care services and job-seeking assistance. Child care services can help pregnant woman get quality prenatal care and later on, successfully deal with motherhood. Job-seeking assistance is mandatory and it includes help in finding a new job with steady income as well as training for any untrained individuals which should open new job possibilities in the future. Depending on your experience and skills, it might not be expected from you to find a new job right away after TANF/TAONF enrollment, but it will be expected to report your progress or to sign-up for one of the training options in order to get to your employment.

During the last couple of years, the Department of Human Services created many programs for children and underage persons with the goal of helping them achieve their potential and self-sufficiency in the future. One of these programs is Teen Pregnancy Prevention, which is established at numerous sites around the State of Hawaii. Since statistics show that 73% of the TANF/TAONF households are single-parent families, so programs like these are very important and in some cases mandatory.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to obtain TANF/TAONF enrollment, your household will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Members of your household need to be a U.S. citizens or legal aliens
  • Children also need to be citizens or have eligible alien status
  • You must have a social security number
  • Your family needs to have monthly income lower than the current Federal Poverty Level
  • Children need to be 18 years of age or younger. In case a child is older than 18, he/she needs to be a full time student with an expected graduation date before the age of 20
  • Household needs to have parents (or one parent, or caretaker) and children under the age 18 living in the same house.
  • Pregnant woman are eligible for TANF/TAONF during the month before their due date.

Speaking of the eligible monthly income limit, it needs to be under 185% of the 2006 Federal Poverty Level. This means that for a household of three, monthly income needs to be less than $2,941 (gross income) or $636 (net income). All TANF/TAONF enrollees are permitted to acquire resources and assets, but their combined total need to be less than $5,000. Vehicles and a house you're living in are excerpt from this list.


Financial Assistance programs Application Instructions

In order to be successfully enrolled with TANF/TAONF program, you'll need to get through the application process. This usually includes filling out application forms and gathering documents which are used as a proof of your financial power.

In order to obtain TANF/TAONF application form, you'll need to visit your local branch of the Department of Human Services. You can find where your local DHS office is located by visiting this link.

You can also call DHS directive to have them send you application form by mail. You can find a list of important telephone numbers on this link.

If you decide to download and print TANF/TAONF application form, you can find it here. You will also need to consult a worker at your local DHS office for any additional documents, which are used as a proof of your eligibility. These documents can be:

  • Information regarding bank accounts
  • Mortgage payments
  • Regular monthly expenses for your household
  • Value of your vehicles
  • Birth certificates
  • Social Security numbers

After you've gathered all of the needed documentation, you'll need to turn it in at your local DHS office. Shortly after that, you can expect an invitation for an interview. The question you'll be asked are usually only confirmations for the information you've applied with. In case you're not able to attend this interview, you will be also able to use a phone interview option.

Finally, if you've been selected for enrollment with TANF/TAONF, you'll be contacted regarding issuing EBT card. This is a debit card by which you'll receive your monthly financial help. You can also use your own bank account for this purpose.

You can also expect that you'll be notified to reconfirm your level of income. This is needed simply to check whether you'll still eligible for TANF/TAONF as well as to confirm on your progress. Also, if your household size changed during this period, you'll be obligated to report it to your local DHS office so the amount of benefits can be adjusted.