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Mayor Bowser Announces One-Time Back-to-School Payment for DC Families Receiving TANF

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Washington, DC – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that District families who are enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program will be receiving a one-time, back-to-school payment of approximately $1,000. The Mayor made the announcement at a TANF Employment Program hiring event at the Frederick Douglass Community Center in Ward 8.  

“We know that back-to-school time can be an expensive time of year for families – new uniforms, haircuts, supplies; there are a lot of expenses all at once,” said Mayor Bowser. “So, we are disbursing these funds now to give families an extra cash bump during a busy time of year so that our students and families can have a strong start to an important school year.”

The Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund (PEAF) is a federal fund established by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for families impacted by COVID-19. The District was awarded nearly $15 million in federal funds through PEAF.  DHS will issue the one-time benefit onto each household’s electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card this month. Approximately 15,000 District families receiving TANF assistance. 

“We know that that the pace of economic recovery is not the same for all households,” said Laura Green Zeilinger, Director of DHS. “We are thrilled to be able to provide one-time payments to families receiving TANF as they prepare for back to school. We are thankful for the critical support of our federal partners at the Administration of Children and Families (ACF).” 

Providing this payment to families demonstrates the values of the District’s TANF program, specifically that cash in the home is a protective factor for children. In Fiscal Year 2018, DHS shifted the focus of the TANF program from one that was solely focused on work and compliance to one that centers around the Two-Generation Approach (2Gen) – focusing on supporting the needs of the entire family, including parents and children. Through TANF, eligible District residents can receive cash assistance and supportive services that help families increase their income and achieve their career and educational goals.

The TANF program allows residents to gain access to supportive services including but not limited to: 

  • TANF Employment and Educational Program – provides coaching towards education, employment, and job placement goals but also coaches parents on goals they have for their children and families. 
  • Child Care Subsidy – allows parents to enroll their children in quality child care, including before and aftercare. 
  • Behavioral, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Support – connects families to the DC Department of Behavioral Health to obtain counseling to cope and manage behavioral, mental, emotional, or substance abuse issues for parents or their children. 
  • Tuition Assistance Program Initiative for TANF – financial assistance to enroll in post-secondary educational programs or professional certificate and/or licensing programs. 

These payments are in addition to the $41 million in food assistance being disbursed through the Summer Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program that Mayor Bowser announced in July. That funding is being used to provide more than 80,000 District children and teens access to healthy meals during the summer and this upcoming school year and eligible families will receive their benefits by late summer/early fall. 

Residents applying or recertifying for TANF must complete an assessment to be connected to these services. There are two ways to complete an assessment for TANF: (1) submit a self-assessment using the new Customer Assessment Portal that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be accessed at the following link:, (2) schedule an appointment with the Office of Work Opportunity by calling (202) 698-1860. To learn more about TANF, visit

For questions about the one-time back to school payments, please contact the ESA Public Benefits Call Center at (202) 727-5355, Monday – Friday, 7:30 am – 4:45 pm.   


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