Commissioner Clarence Carter announces $500 Christmas bonus for Tennessee’s Families First participants

Commissioner Clarence Carter announces $500 Christmas bonus for Tennessee’s Families First participants

By Camm Ashford

Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) Commissioner Clarence H. Carter on Monday announced a $500 Christmas bonus for families who receive monthly cash assistance through the state’s Families First Program.

Households with a case in the program as of Dec. 1, 2022, will receive the one-time additional payment on their existing Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. This one-time payment will be available beginning Dec. 1.

The $500 bonus will provide extra support for nearly 24,000 children in participating Families First households ahead of the holiday season.

“We serve some of the most economically vulnerable families and children through the Families First program and recognize the challenges they’re facing,” Commissioner Carter said. “Keeping up with the demands of the holiday season can introduce additional hurdles in caring for children, such as accommodating school breaks, providing extra meals, and so much more. This one-time boost in financial assistance is intended to help Families First participants overcome these temporary hurdles, positioning them to start the year off strong.”

Carter was appointed to serve as a member of Gov. Bill Lee’s Cabinet as the commissioner of TDHS in January 2021. He leads the state’s second-largest agency with an operating budget of more than $3 billion and nearly 4,000 employees working in offices in all 95 counties.

Through more than 17 programs and services, the department partners with Tennesseans to facilitate nutrition programs, employment assistance, vocational training and protective services to enhance their well-being.

In 2015, Commissioner Carter founded the Institute for the Improvement of the Human Condition. At that organization, he worked with state and local safety net agencies to meet the emergency needs of socially and economically vulnerable citizens.

Prior to serving as TDHS commissioner, Carter served on the federal level as director of the Office of Family Assistance and acting director of the Office of Community Services within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While there, Commissioner Carter led the administration of seven federal programs including the $16.5 billion Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

Families First is Tennessee’s TANF program. TANF is a federally funded program that emphasizes “work, family strengthening and personal responsibility to empower families for long-term success.” The program helps participants reach this goal by providing temporary cash assistance, transportation, child care assistance, educational support, job training and other support services.

For further information, call the Tennessee Department of Human Services Family Assistance Service Center at 866-311-4287