TANF Vs Welfare

Xavier da Silva

Senior Member
Hello everyone,

My question is: which one should I use: TANF or Welfare?

Context: a US government programme that provides financial help for poor families with children. It is run by the US Department of Health and Human Services, and each state receives a certain amount of money. [Oxford Dictionary]

a. She is receiving TANF. Vs She is receiving welfare.
b. There are many families on TANF. Vs There are many families on welfare.

Should I say "ti ei en ef''(TANF)?

Thank you in advance!
  • Prairiefire

    Senior Member
    US (Midwest) - English
    TANF--at least in the American Midwest--is pronounced "Tan-eff," with the accent on the first syllable.

    "Welfare" is a generic term used to refer to many different government programs that provide aid (usually monetary) to people in need. TANF is one specific welfare program. It stands for "Temporary Aid to Needy Families" and is available primarily to single/widowed mothers and their young, dependent children. It's mostly federally funded, but is administered by the states.


    Senior Member
    English - US
    Actually, I wouldn't have known what "TANF" was either way. People who are not involved in the welfare system do not necessarily know all the legal jargon and acronyms associated with it.
    The answer to this post greatly depends on your intended audience. Who are you addressing? Have you already said the term in full and associated it with "welfare"?


    Senior Member
    US (Midwest) - English
    I agree with the others who commented after I did. I know what TANF is only because I used to work in government human services. Only those Americans who are well-versed in public welfare policy will recognize the term TANF (in writing) or "TAN-ef" (spoken), and no one will recognize "ti ei en ef." (Note to my American friends: Do you recognize the term AFDC? That's what TANF was before Bill Clinton 'reformed' it.)

    For general audiences who may not know or care which specific welfare program you're talking about, just use 'welfare.'

    Not meaning to frighten you off, but perhaps you should also know that the term used for TANF may vary from state to state. TANF is the federal program; some states modify the program a bit and give it a different name.
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