Increasing Data Analytics Capacity in State TANF Agencies

The TANF Data Collaborative Approach

a women in front of the computer with data table in it


This brief describes the TANF Data Collaborative (TDC), an innovative approach to increasing data analytics capacity at state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) agencies.

The brief should be of interest to policymakers, researchers, and organizations seeking to expand the use of data in state TANF agencies. Additionally, it may be of interest to staff from other agencies who are looking for a model to support the use of administrative data for learning and improvement efforts.


TDC was part of the TANF Data Innovation (TDI) project, launched by the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to strengthen agencies’ use of TANF, employment, and other administrative data. The brief shares the TDC framework and guiding principles, as well as the components of a pilot initiative, to inform similar and future efforts.

Key Findings and Highlights

The TDC offered a range of training and technical assistance products, services, and learn­ing experiences targeting two audiences: (1) all TANF agencies or entities that serve fami­lies receiving TANF or who may become TANF-eligible, and (2) a select group of state TANF agencies that were chosen to participate in the TDC Pilot Initiative.

1. The TANF Data Collaborative provided support to all TANF agencies through the following resources:

  • a TDC “Applied Data Analytics” course
  • training and technical assistance on preparing federally reported TANF data
  • active dissemination
  • a TANF Data Collaborative website (
  • a toolkit for linking TANF and employment data for analysis

2. Through a rigorous selection process, eight state TANF agencies were chosen to participate in the TDC Pilot Initiative, during which each agency executed a proposed data project over a 30-month pilot period. The Pilot Initiative consisted of the following components:

  • direct funding
  • building foundational skills through a TDC “Applied Data Analytics” course
  • access to a dedicated TDC coach and to a technical bench of data experts
  • strategically phased milestones and deliverables with corresponding training and technical assistance
  • TDC Pilot Initiative Learning Community
Wavelet, Melissa, Stephanie Rubino, and Maryah Garner. 2022. “Increasing Data Analytics Capacity in State TANF Agencies.” New York: MDRC.