Cash Assistance

Employment and Training for TANF Recipients

If you receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, known as TANF, employment and training programs can help you go back to school or guide you on your career pathway. Here, you can learn more about available programs, what to expect, how we can help you succeed, and more. Your county assistance office caseworker and your employment and training case manager will give you more information. Remember: This information is only for those individuals who receive TANF. 

​​ E&T Supportive Services

Individuals participating in approved TANF activities, including approved education and training (E&T) activities, are eligible to receive special allowances (SPALs). SPALs are targeted, needs-based grants to cover the cost of items needed to successfully participate in E&T activities.

Available Programs

If you receive TANF, you may be able to participate in one of these programs. Talk to your caseworker for more information.

Employment, Advancement, & Retention Network (EARN)

  • Where it's offered: All Pennsylvania counties
  • For you if: You have a work history and high school diploma or GED
  • You have trade skills, a certification, or a college degree
  • Can help you: Get and keep employment that allows you to support yourself and family.
  • Benefits:
    • Help to find and keep a job
    • Resume workshops
    • Mock job interviews
    • Community service
    • Help understanding personal finances
    • Certificate and trade programs
    • Apprenticeship opportunities

Work Ready

  • Where it's offered: In select counties; talk with your caseworker about availability.

  • For you if:
    • You and your family need more time/help before starting training or work
    • You are preparing to enter or return to the job market
    • You want to get your high school diploma or GED
    • Can help you: Overcome challenges, get your diploma or GED, prepare for other programs
    • Benefits:
      • Help with a criminal history, pregnancy, difficulties at home, and more
      • Provides referrals to other community help
      • Helps to prepare for and obtain GED
      • Educates on personal finances, parenting, healthy food choices, and more
      • Help to get ready for employment

Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS) 

  • Where it's offered: In select counties; talk with your caseworker about availability.
  • For you if: You are already going to OR are interested in attending a Pennsylvania community college and meet certain additional requirements. Please check with your caseworker to see if you qualify.
  • Can help you: Graduate from college with your degree or certificate and start your career
  • Benefits:
    • Help with the college system, including financial aid and career exploration
    • Supports to help students succeed
    • Class and some study time are counted activities toward hourly requirements
    • Peer groups that link KEYS students for support


  • Where it's offered: In select counties; talk with your caseworker about availability.
  • For you if: You are age 22 or younger and want to get your high school diploma or high school equivalency (HSE) credential.
  • Can help you: Overcome challenges, get your diploma or HSE, and secure post-graduation employment, education, or training
  • Benefits:
    • Helps to prepare for and obtain a high school diploma or HSE
    • Education on budgeting and finances, child development and parenting skills, health care and nutrition, healthy relationships, and more
    • Vocational, career, and job readiness training  
    • Intensive case management, including home visits

Program Requirements and Activities

If you receive TANF, you must meet the work requirement. This means that you must work or participate in approved activities like:

  • Job search
  • Job skills training
  • Education (may include vocations school and community college that will directly lead to employment, as well as pursuing your GED and improving your English learner levels, if either is needed to help you become more employable.)
  • Other job-related activities

Your caseworker will tell you how many hours you must work or participate based on your personal situation.

Can I Be Excused from the Requirement?

Yes, you may be excused from the work requirement if you prove you cannot work or look for work because of circumstances outside of your control. Some reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • Disability
  • Caring for a child under 12 months old (limited to 12 months in a parent's lifetime)
  • Caring for a disabled household member (who must live with you)
  • Personal or family emergency
  • Homelessness
  • Domestic violence

Talk to your caseworker for more information. It is important to keep them updated so they can best serve you. All information you provide will be kept confidential according to the law.

Need help?

Call the Statewide Customer Service Center: 

Please reach out to your TANF team if you:

  • Need to report a change
  • Have problems and cannot attend your program
  • Have benefit-related questions
  • Need supportive services

The phone number for your caseworker should be on the bottom of Page 3 of the agreement you signed called Agreement of Mutual Responsibility, or AMR. It looks like this:

tanf phone number

Get prepared

  • Prepare for your first day:
  • Set up child care (Find your local Early Learning Resource Center)
  • Arrange transportation beforehand *
  • Get directions to your program location using the address listed on your Agreement of Mutual Responsibility (AMR)
  • Pack a lunch (lunch will NOT be provided)
  • Take your AMR and ID to your program


How to succeed in employment and training:

  • Attend every scheduled day
  • Arrive on time
  • Work with your case manager to develop a plan that meets your needs and fulfills your requirements
  • Take advantage of workshops, job fairs, etc.
  • Call your program if you have problems getting there

*If you have trouble arranging child care and/or transportation, call your caseworker so that they can help you. Have a "back-up plan" for times when unexpected problems arise. This will help you to not miss time at your program.

Please note: ​The information provided on this site never replaces talking to your caseworker or employment and training case manager.