Pregnant and Parenting Minors

Created on: 
Oct 22 2014


This category provides rules, policy and information to determine a pregnant and/or parenting minor's eligibility for TANF or SFA cash assistance and WorkFirst Support Services based upon the required Teen Living Assessment and school requirements.

WAC 388-486-0005 - Unmarried pregnant or parenting minors - Required living arrangement

WAC 388-486-0010 - Unmarried pregnant or parenting minors - Required school attendance

Living Arrangements

Revised on: November 30, 2022


The objective is to assist the minor in finding a home environment that will provide appropriate adult supervision, guidance and support to both the parent and the child.

Clarifying Information

  • If the Department determines that an unmarried minor parent is residing in an inappropriate living arrangement with the adult parent of the minor parent's child, neither the minor parent nor the adult parent is eligible for TANF benefits. Only the child is eligible in such cases (see ASSISTANCE UNITS in the EA-Z manual).
EXAMPLE - A 17-year-old unmarried minor mom and her baby are living with the 25-year-old father of the baby. The Social Worker determines that the living arrangement is not appropriate because there is no appropriate adult supervision. The minor and the adult father of the baby are ineligible for TANF but they are authorized for a child-only grant with a protective payee.
  • The policies in this category apply to both male and female minor parents.
EXAMPLE -The 16-year-old unmarried minor father and his child are living with the 21-year-old mother of the child. He applies for assistance. The Social worker conducts the assessment in the home where the father of the child proposes to live and determines that the living arrangement is not appropriate because there is no appropriate adult supervision. Both the minor father and the 21-year old mother are ineligible for a TANF grant but they are authorized for a child-only grant with a protective payee.

Worker Responsibilities

  1. Complete a Teen Living Assessment (TLA) (DSHS 14-427) at the home where the minor proposes to live.
  2. If a TLA cannot be completed due to a minor's homelessness or an in-home visit would be unsafe, the TLA should be completed in the office. An in-office assessment is completed to ensure the minor is connected to available help and resources and school.
  3. Do not approve the minor's living arrangement if the minor is homeless or if the living arrangement is unsafe.
EXAMPLE - The minor parent is living with her boyfriend who has threatened DSHS Social Workers in the past. The Social Worker feels she would be at risk if she were to conduct a home visit. The Social Worker makes a referral to CPS indicating the minor and her child may not be in a safe environment and works with the minor whenever possible to obtain help and appropriate housing. The minor's living arrangement would not be approved because the living arrangement is unsafe and there is not appropriate adult supervision. A child-only grant should be authorized with a protective payee.

A Teen Living Assessment is completed to:

  1. Determine if the minor's living arrangement is safe and appropriate.
  2. Uncover any issues or needs the minor or the minor's child may have and connect to appropriate resources.
  3. Ensure the minor is enrolled in and attending school. When the minor is not in school, assist them to enroll in school and ensure childcare and transportation needs are met, when necessary.

Follow these guidelines to ensure the minor is in the most appropriate living arrangement:

  1. Determine where the minor's parents are residing and if they are willing to have the minor live with them. This information regarding the whereabouts of the minor's parents may be obtained from the minors themselves, or from the information DSHS already has in the system.
  2. Make every effort to contact the parents (both the mother and the father if they are not living together) to get the parents' perspective as to the reason the minor does not live in the parent's home. If the parental home is safe and appropriate and a parent is willing to have the minor live with them, deny the minor's proposed living arrangement.
  3. When living with a parent or legal guardian is not an option because of abuse, neglect, or because of the parent's unwillingness to allow the minor to live with them, investigate other options. Other options may include a responsible adult relative or supervised minor housing. If there are appropriate and safe adult supervised living arrangements available to the minor, encourage the minor to consider that option.
  4. Contact Children's Services to determine if there is an open case, or a history of child abuse and neglect involving the minor parent or the minor parent's child. If there is an open case of child abuse involving the minor or minor's child, it is important to work with Children's Services while managing the case. Equally important is getting the minor in a living situation that will support the case plan and encourage positive parenting.
  5. Checking with Children's Administration may also provide important background information regarding the environment the minor may have grown up in and whether a Child Protective Service history exists involving the minor and the minor's parents.
  6. Refer pregnant minors for First Steps services. For information on making a referral for home visiting and parent support see WorkFirst Handbook 5.1 Pregnancy to Employment | DSHS ( Some minors are receiving Washington Apple Health for Pregnant Women prior to applying for TANF and may have a maternity case manager who can help coordinate services to the minor.
  7. Request that household members be available during the scheduled home visit. This provides an opportunity to meet the household members and gather information and insight about how the household functions.
  8. Observe the surroundings to ensure there are basic necessities (i.e. heat, light, water, food, etc.) and no safety hazards.
EXAMPLE - A Social Worker conducts a home visit with a minor parent who is living in a trailer next to an old house of an adult friend. The minor is not able to live in the house because it is already overcrowded. The trailer the minor is living in does not have electricity except for an extension cord that runs from the house to the trailer that plugs into a space heater, a lamp, a TV and a stereo. The bathroom floor in the trailer is moldy and rotted out and the roof is leaking in the main living area. The Social Worker denies the living arrangement as unsafe for the minor and her baby and assists the minor in finding a more appropriate housing situation. A child-only grant is authorized and a protective payee assigned.

The three most important questions to consider when determining the appropriateness of a minor's living arrangement are:

  1. Is there appropriate adult supervision? (Parents should always be the first option explored). When looking at whether there is appropriate adult supervision, consider the role of the adult in the minor's life. Is the adult acting in place of a parent or guardian and providing adult supervision, guidance, support, house rules and responsibilities, etc, to the minor and their child? If the adult of the proposed living arrangement is the boyfriend, girlfriend or friend/buddy of the minor, then the role is not that of an adult acting in place of a parent or guardian.
  2. Is the environment safe for the minor and the minor's child? When determining the safety of the proposed living environment, be sure to observe the environment for safety and health issues, such as signs of: abuse and neglect (any type of family violence) involving the minor or the minor's child; alcohol or drug abuse, or selling of drugs; home environmental safety hazards; or anything that may put the minor and/or the child at risk.
  3. Is the proposed arrangement the best available option? When determining the best available living arrangement, always consider the minor's parents as the first option. If the parents are not available or suitable, consider an adult relative who will provide appropriate adult supervision or a home for pregnant and parenting minors that provides a supportive and supervised living arrangement. When a minor parent’s living arrangement is denied, the minor parent is not eligible for a grant. However, the minor is still eligible to receive a child-only grant for their child, and the grant is assigned to a protective payee.

School Requirements

Clarifying Information 

  1. Educational activities include standard or alternative public school programs, state-accredited private schools, home schooling (approved and monitored by the school district), high school equivalency programs, or any training program that contains an educational component that would lead to a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate.
  2. There is no requirement as to the number of hours a client must participate, but a minor must maintain satisfactory attendance as determined by the school or program in order to be considered "participating" for the purpose of this policy.)

Worker Responsibilities

  1. Verify school enrollment and attendance (or completions of high school or high school equivalency) at the time of the teen living assessment.
    1. If the minor has graduated high school or obtained a high school equivalency certificate, they are required to participate in regular WorkFirst activities, i.e. job search.
    2. If the minor is not enrolled and/or attending school, assist the minor in enrolling in school and explain support services available (i.e. transportation, childcare, etc). (See Support Services in the WorkFirst Handbook 2.2)
NOTE: If a pregnant or parenting minor refuses to enroll in or attend school, the minor is not eligible for TANF. However, the minor is still eligible for a child only grant for her child, which is assigned to a protective payee.
  1. Monitor monthly school attendance and progress. Request from the minor a monthly attendance record to verify school attendance and quarterly progress reports or grades.

Protective Payees

All pregnant and parenting minors receiving a grant for themselves or their child are required to have a contracted Protective Payee to manage their money and teach money management skills. (See Protective Payees)

Support Services for Minor Parents Not Receiving TANF

Worker Responsibilities 

  1. Authorize support services when the pregnant or parenting minor is not eligible for TANF but is actively working with a social worker to remove the barriers that prevent them from being eligible. See WorkFirst Support Services WAC 388-310-0800.
  2. Use the "TP" code in the e-JAS component screen to authorize support services. This allows support services to be issued for minors who otherwise would not have an active component in e-JAS allowing a payment.
EXAMPLE - A minor applies for TANF and is not living in an appropriate living arrangement but is enrolled in high school equivalency classes and doing well. The minor is denied TANF because of the living arrangement and opened up on a child only grant for her baby. The Social Worker who completed the TLA actively works with the minor to find supervised minor housing that is approved by the department and agrees to authorize support services to pay for the two high school equivalency tests the minor is ready to take.

Tribal Minors

  1. Collaboration is critical between DSHS and the Tribes regarding pregnant and parenting minors who are tribal members. While the Office of the Attorney General has determined that the Department makes the ultimate decision in determining the appropriateness of a tribal minor’s living arrangement, the Department will include the Tribe in the decision-making process.
  2. Work with the local Tribes to develop an acceptable process for conducting teen living assessments, including how changes in circumstances and case updates will be communicated.
  3. It is very important that Tribes are contacted immediately and included when dealing with minor tribal members. The process should meet the following requirements:
    1. The CSO administrator and/or Social Service supervisor will meet with local Tribal government to ensure the opportunity for involvement and consultation is followed in accordance with the Administrative Policy 7.01 American Indian Policy.
    2. Develop specific protocols to establish how the CSO and Tribe will work cooperatively in providing services to Indian minor parents.

Health Care Coverage and First Steps Services

  1. Pregnant and parenting minor's may be eligible for Washington Apple Health coverage even if they are not eligible for TANF because they do not meet the school or living requirements. (See WAC 388-505-0220 (2)).
  2. Refer pregnant minors for First Steps services. For information on making a referral for Home visiting and parent support see WorkFirst Handbook 5.1 Pregnancy to Employment | DSHS ( Pregnant minors are eligible to receive the following services through First Steps:
    1. Home visits by a public health nurse
    2. Dietician services
    3. Counseling
    4. Maternity case management
  3. Coordinate services when a pregnant or parenting minor is working with Maternity Case Management to avoid duplication of services.