Temporary Assistance

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, also known as Temporary Assistance (TA), is a program designed to provide cash benefits to low-income families for the household’s children such as clothing, utilities and other services. Upon approval of TA, the recipient must participate in employment and training services through the Missouri Work Assistance (MWA) program. The MWA program helps TA recipients transition from TA to a job by helping set goals and get the skills needed to find a job and support the recipient’s family.

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Information about Temporary Assistance

Eligibility Requirements

  • The applicant must be a Missouri resident and the parent or legal caretaker of a child who is either under age 18, or the child is attending high school (or equivalent) and is expected to graduate before age 19.
  • To be considered low-income, the members of the applicant’s household cannot own resources valued at more than $1,000 at application, excluding their home and one household member’s car. After the applicant is approved for Temporary Assistance (TA) and he/she signs an Individual Employment Plan, the household's resources cannot be valued at more than $5,000.
  • The applicant must either have or agree to apply for Social Security numbers for all household members or that household member will not receive TA benefits for themselves.
  • A household member convicted after August 22, 1996 in a Federal or State court of a felony or any crime related to illegal possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance will not receive TA benefits for themselves.
  • A household member who is a fleeing felon and is in violation of a condition of probation or parole imposed under a Federal or State Law will not receive not receive TA benefits for themselves.
  • If the applicant is approved for TA, the rights for child support must be assigned to the Family Support Division (FSD). The applicant must cooperate in attempting to collect Child Support, or the TA benefit will be reduced by 25%. The Child Support requirement may be waived if the applicant can prove this would be physically or emotionally harmful to themselves or the household member children.
  • The money must be used for the benefit for the children in the household.
  • The applicant must attempt to support or help support the children by accepting employment that does not cause a net loss of income.
  • Drug Testing:
    • Missouri law requires the FSD to ask TA applicants questions about illegal drug use. If the applicant is approved for benefits and did not answer the questions, they will not receive TA benefits for themselves for three years.
    • TA recipients may be required to take a drug test and if they do not show up for the appointment or do not complete the drug test, they will not receive TA benefits for themselves for three years.
    • TA recipients can chose to go directly to substance abuse treatment instead of taking a drug test.
    • If a TA recipient tests positive or elects to go directly to treatment, they must agree to join, participate, and successfully complete a substance abuse treatment program through the Department of Mental Health (DMH), or they will not receive TA benefits for themselves for three years.
    • If a TA recipient is ineligible for TA for themselves, they must appoint a Protective Payee to receive benefits for the rest of the household.

Employment and Training Requirements

  • If approved for Temporary Assistance, most recipients are required to participate in employment and training activities. There are times when they are not required to participate in these activities due to an exemption including:
    • There is a domestic violence situation and participating in employment and training activities would cause physical or emotional harm to the recipient or the children in the household
    • The recipient is over 60 years of age, or is permanently disabled
    • The recipient has a child under 12 weeks of age
    • The recipient is needed in the home to care for a disabled family member
  • If the recipient has an exemption, they can chose to volunteer in employment and training activities with the Missouri Work Assistance Program (MWA)
  • For recipients that do not meet an exemption, they must be in employment and training activities for a minimum number of average hours per federal month. Please note that weeks are calculated as Saturday through Friday in a federal month, so a month may include either four or five weeks depending on the number of Fridays.
    • The required average employment and training activities for a federal month for a single-parent household are:
      • 20 hours if the children are under age 6
      • 30 hours if the children are over age 6
    • The required average employment and training activities for a federal month for a two-parent household are:
      • 35 hours if the children are under age 6 and the household is not receiving federally funded childcare on the household members, and
      • 55 hours for all other households
  • If the TA recipient does not participate in the required work activities through the MWA program, the TA cash benefits will be reduced by half and then stopped. To find a MWA location near you, use the map location look up tool.

Calculating Amount of Benefits

The amount of benefits your family may be eligible for is determined by a few factors including the size of your household and the expenses associated with caring for the children.

When to Expect Benefits

After the TA applicant submits the TA application and all required documentation, the FSD will determine if the applicant is eligible for benefits. If the TA application is approved, payment will be received as a direct deposit to the bank account or on the EBT Card within 45 days. TA benefits are then paid monthly.

How to Apply

 Apply for Temporary Assistance

Completed applications can be:

  1. Mailed to:
    Family Support Division
    Attn: TA Application
    615 E 13th St
    Kansas City, MO 64106
  2. Faxed to:
    Attn: TA application
    (816) 889-2622
  3. Dropped off at: the local Family Support Division Resource Center

A face-to-face interview is not required before the Family Support Division (FSD) processes the application. For more information or to check the status of your application, please contact us at (855) 373-4636.

After the application has been processed, the FSD will send the TA applicant a letter of TA approval or denial. If the applicant is eligible to receive TA, an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card will be issued or payments will be made through direct deposit to the bank account depending on what was chosen on the TA application. The TA recipient will access benefits through the EBT card at a cash register or an automatic teller machine (ATM).

History of the Program

In 1911, Missouri enacted the first "Mother’s Aid Law" in the history of the United States which was followed by Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). The AFDC provided assistance to children who had been deprived of support due to the absence or incapacity of one or both parents or the unemployment of the principal wage earner. The AFDC program was an effort to keep families together and to help ensure a normal family life for the children. The maximum amount of the grant for each family was the highest percent of that family’s need within the limits of the funds appropriated for this program.

The Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) was passed by the House of Representatives on July 31, 1996 and by the Senate on August 1, 1996. On August 22, 1996 President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law. (PL 104-193)

PRWORA is comprehensive legislation with far-reaching implications for a number of public assistance programs. This legislation eliminated the open-ended entitlement program of AFDC and created the block grant cash assistance program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). In Missouri, TANF is referred to as "Temporary Assistance (TA)" which provides this time-limited cash assistance. In addition, PRWORA no longer allows TANF recipients to automatically receive Medicaid. Now, TA recipients must apply separately for Medicaid which is currently referred to as MO HealthNet For Families (MHF) in Missouri.