• Nonprofits complementary to public sector: Nonprofit organizations reported their role as complementary to public assistance programs in supporting low-income families seeking TANF benefits. Nonprofits often assist applicants by promoting program awareness, navigating the application process, filling gaps in program information, and ensuring equitable program access.
  • Challenges during COVID-19: Nonprofits experienced ongoing difficulties during COVID-19 in addressing families’ heightened need for other support services—especially considering New Jersey’s relatively low TANF benefit level compared to its cost of living.
  • Pandemic waivers more helpful to existing recipients: Families that were receiving TANF before COVID-19 benefited from temporary waivers which eased requirements related to redeterminations and work participation. Nonprofit staff differed in opinion on the accessibility of the program during COVID-19, some noting virtual application options as easing application burden and others concerned about the digital divide, but all agreed on the expected increase in need among families.
  • Restricted access for marginalized groups: Nonprofit staff noted that access for applicants with certain identities and experiences could be particularly restrictive. Non-citizens, applicants with limited English language proficiency, with involvement in the legal system, or with certain racial and ethnic backgrounds encounter difficulties in accessing TANF.