Struggling to make ends meet in Arkansas? The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, known as Transitional Employment Assistance (TEA) in the state, offers financial aid and support services for eligible low-income families. This guide covers TEA eligibility criteria, benefits, work requirements, how to apply, and more.
What is TANF?
TANF is a Federal grant program that provides funds to states to give financial assistance and support services to needy families. The goal is to help caregivers get back on their feet while ensuring children’s basic needs are met.
States administer their own TANF initiatives. In Arkansas, the program is called Transitional Employment Assistance (TEA) and is run by the Department of Workforce Services. Along with cash benefits, TEA also connects families to other child care assistance, transportation, career services and other aid.
Arkansas Transitional Employment Assistance (TEA) Eligibility
To qualify for TEA benefits in Arkansas, you must:
- Be an Arkansas resident and U.S. citizen/national or eligible immigrant
- Be unemployed or underemployed (earning very low wages)
- Have a minor child under 18 in your home, be pregnant, or be under 18 yourself
- Meet income limits of $223 per month no matter your family size.
- Your household must also have minimal assets under $3,000 in value.
- Submit an application to confirm eligibility.
TEA Benefits in Arkansas
If approved, TEA provides monthly cash assistance to help cover essential costs like food, housing, utilities, clothing, and transportation. Payment amounts depend on family size and income.
For instance, the maximum monthly grant for a family of three with no other income is $204 in Arkansas. The amount is reduced as you report additional household earnings.
TEA recipients may also receive support services like child care fee assistance, transportation reimbursement, and one-time relocation grants up to $1,500 if moving for work.
TEA Work Requirements in Arkansas
To maintain TEA eligibility, Arkansas requires adult recipients to work or participate in approved activities for 20-30 hours per week depending on family size. Assignments can include:
- Job searching
- Vocational training
- Community service
- Secondary education
Documented disability, being over 60 years old, or caring for a young child may exempt you from requirements. Failure to complete hours can result in TEA case closure.
How to Apply for Temporary Assistance in Arkansas
You have several options to apply for Arkansas TEA:
- Online via Access Arkansas portal
- In person at your county DHS office
- Call 1-855-372-1084 for a mail application
- Submit application by mail or fax
Provide identifying documents, income statements, address confirmation, social security numbers, and other details. Applications are processed within 30 days.
After Applying - Next Steps
If approved, cooperate with your caseworker on work activities and submit any required progress reports to maintain TEA eligibility. Promptly report any changes in income, living arrangements, or household size as well.
If your TEA cash aid reduces or ends due to increased income, you may qualify for transitional supports like child care assistance, Medicaid coverage, transportation stipends, and work incentive bonuses.
Time Limit for TEA Monthly Cash Assistance Benefits
Federal rules cap cumulative TEA cash assistance at 24 months per family over time. The 24 months do not need to be consecutive - you can reapply later after leaving the program. Track your participation to maximize the duration.
Apply for Other Assistance Programs
Those receiving TANF benefits often qualify for supplemental aid like:
- SNAP food/nutrition assistance
- Medicaid health insurance
- Subsidized housing programs
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)
Review all the assistance you may be eligible for and apply to boost available support. The applications take time, so start early.
Get Discounted Wireless Service with TEA
Since TEA households must meet low-income criteria, you likely qualify for the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs (ACP) which provide monthly wireless discounts.
You may also qualify for Lifeline and ACP if you participate in certain government assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid etc.
For a complete list, see Qualifying Lifeline and ACP Programs.
Lifeline offers up to $9.25 off phone bills. ACP provides up to $30/month off internet costs.
Get FREE Cell Phone Service with EASY Wireless
When you bundle Lifeline and ACP benefits, EASY Wireless provides FREE cell phone and data service to eligible Arkansas TEA participants.
- Free Unlimited Talk, Text, Data
- Free Smartphone*
- Free SIM Card Activation
- The Same Nationwide Networks as the Major Carriers
- No Contracts or Activation Costs
- Automatic Enrollment in the EASY Rewards Program
*when enrolling at one of our retail stores or tent locations
Stay connected to critical services while reducing wireless bills even further. Contact EASY Wireless to check eligibility and enroll.
Navigating TANF in Arkansas
For Arkansas families facing financial hardship, TEA can offer monthly cash aid, career development opportunities, and access to support programs while you get back on your feet. Learn about TEA eligibility and apply for assistance so your family has one less thing to worry about. Help is available - reach out today.