Code of the District of Columbia

§ 4–205.65. Eligibility for public assistance; learnfare.

(a)(1) As a condition of eligibility for federally-funded TANF benefits, a pregnant or parenting teen who is not married and has not successfully completed a high school education or its equivalent shall be required to attend school regularly (as defined by the Board or other entity that determines the attendance policies at the pregnant or parenting teen’s educational institution or program) or be determined ineligible for federally-funded TANF benefits.

(2) The requirements of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not affect the eligibility for TANF benefits of a child living with a pregnant or parenting teen who, if otherwise eligible, may receive TANF benefits determined without regard to the needs of the ineligible pregnant or parenting teen.

(b) The types of schools that can be attended to meet the school attendance requirements of subsection (a) of this subsection are as follows: a public school, private school, independent school, parochial school, private instruction, or a course of study or home school program meeting the standards established by the Board for granting a high school equivalency diploma.

(c) A pregnant or parenting teen who fails to meet the school attendance requirements set forth in subsection (a) of this section shall be provided counseling, tutoring, or other supportive services deemed appropriate by the Department to help the pregnant or parenting teen improve school attendance, or in the case of a drop-out, to return to school. Such supportive services will be provided as appropriations are available and in accordance with regulations issued by the Mayor.

(d) The determination of a pregnant or a parenting teen’s ineligibility for federally-funded TANF benefits made pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall be effective for one month for each month that the pregnant or parenting teen fails to meet the school attendance requirements set forth in subsection (a) of this section. In the case of a dropout, the sanctions shall remain in force until the dropout provides written proof from a school that the dropout has re-enrolled in school and met the school attendance requirements of subsection (a) of this section for one calendar month. Any month in which school is in session for at least 10 days may be used to meet the school attendance requirements.

(e) If the Department determines that a pregnant or parenting teen who has been determined ineligible for federally-funded TANF benefits pursuant to subsection (a) of this section has satisfied the requirements of subsection (d) of this section, the determination of ineligibility for federally-funded TANF benefits shall be rescinded in the next possible payment month. The pregnant or parenting teen shall not receive payment for the remainder of the month in which compliance occurs. The first payment that resumes after the pregnant or parenting teen complies with subsection (d) of this section may be delayed, depending on the date of compliance.

(f) A pregnant or parenting teen’s absence on any particular day shall be determined to be an excused or an unexcused absence based on the policies of the Board or other entity that determines the attendance policies at the teen’s educational institution or program. Notwithstanding such policies, a pregnant or parenting teen’s absence on a particular day shall be excused under the following circumstances:

(1) The Department determines, in accordance with regulations issued by the Mayor, that child care services are necessary for the pregnant or parenting teen to attend school and there is no District funded child care service available; child care service shall be considered unavailable if there is no space for the pregnant or parenting teen’s child in a licensed child development facility within reasonable time and distance from the pregnant or parenting teen’s home, or if the cost of care where space is available is excessive in the judgment of the Department and the pregnant and parenting teen participates in an alternative educational or training program that has been approved by the Department; or

(2) The pregnant or parenting teen is the caretaker of a child fewer than 12 weeks old.

(g) The determination of a pregnant or parenting teen’s ineligibility for federally-funded TANF benefits provided by subsection (a) of this section shall not apply if the information about the pregnant or parenting teen’s school attendance is not available or cannot be verified by the school or the approved alternative educational or training program.

(h) The pregnant or parenting teen, or his or her parent, caretaker, or legal guardian, shall cooperate in providing information to verify enrollment information or good cause for absence from school. If at least one of these individuals does not cooperate, the pregnant or parenting teen shall be determined ineligible for federally-funded TANF benefits for each month in which one of the individuals does not cooperate.

(i) The Department shall request school attendance information for a pregnant or parenting teen compiled by a school whenever necessary to ascertain school attendance requirements as required by this section.

(j) The Department shall request information from the pregnant or parenting teen’s school, institution, or educational program about the attendance of a pregnant or parenting teen who is applying for or receiving federally-funded TANF benefits, and shall otherwise implement procedures for monitoring compliance with this section.

(k) School attendance records shall be open for inspection at all times to the Department or other persons authorized to enforce this section; provided, that prior written informed consent is given by the parent, caretaker, or legal guardian of a pregnant or parenting teen or by an emancipated pregnant or parenting teen.

(l) It shall be the duty of each person designated by the Superintendent of Schools, every parochial school teacher, every private school teacher, and every teacher who gives instruction privately, to provide information, upon the request of the Department, as soon as practicable to the Department concerning the school attendance of a pregnant or parenting teen who is applying for or receives federally-funded TANF benefits.

(m) This section shall apply to all applicants for, or recipients of, federally-funded TANF benefits.


(Apr. 6, 1982, D.C. Law 4-101, § 565; as added Oct. 27, 1995, D.C. Law 11-72, § 101, 42 DCR 4728; Apr. 20, 1999, D.C. Law 12-241, § 4(e), 46 DCR 905.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 3-205.65.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 4-205.19b, § 4-205.61, and § 4-205.66.

Expiration of Law

Expiration of Law 11-72

See note to § 4-205.01.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 4(d) § 4(c) of the Public Assistance Emergency Amendment Act of 1997 (D.C. Act 12-25, February 27, 1997, 44 DCR 1778), and § 4(c) of the Public Assistance Legislative Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1997 (D.C. Act 12-77, May 27, 1997, 44 DCR 3181).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 4(c) of the Public Assistance Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-306, March 20, 1998, 45 DCR 1900).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 4(e) of the Self-Sufficiency Promotion Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-372, June 9, 1998, 45 DCR 4270), § 4(e) of the Self-Sufficiency Promotion Legislative Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-425, July 31, 1998, 45 DCR 5682),§ 4(e) of the Self-Sufficiency Promotion Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-552, December 24, 1998, 46 DCR 521), and § 4(e) of the Self-Sufficiency Promotion Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-19, February 17, 1999, 46 DCR 2492).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 4(c) of Public Assistance Temporary Amendment Act of 1997 (D.C. Law 12-7, August 1, 1997, law notification 44 DCR 4639).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 4(c) of Public Assistance Temporary Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Law 12-130, July 24, 1998, law notification 45 DCR 6501).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 4(e) of Self-Sufficiency Promotion Temporary Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Law 12-230, April 20, 1999, law notification 46 DCR 4143).