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What are the school requirements for children ("Learnfare")?


DTA made a number of changes and suspended a number of rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guide notes in red when a rule was suspended during the pandemic.

Produced by Deborah Harris and Betsy Gwin, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2022

Unless you are disabled, your school age children under age 16 who are on the TAFDC grant must meet DTA’s school attendance requirements. If a child has too many unexcused absences, you will lose that child’s portion of the grant. This is called “Learnfare.” 106 C.M.R § 703.180; DTA Online Guide (Learnfare Introduction); DTA Online Guide Transmittal 2022-93 (Restart of Learnfare) (November 17, 2022)

You will be put on TAFDC “probation” if your child had more than eight unexcused absences during the previous school quarter. A quarter is 45 school days.

  • During probation, you have to submit a monthly report with your child’s school attendance for the previous month.
  • If you do not submit the report on time, DTA will close your case. This may not be legal. 
  • If the child has more than three unexcused absences during any month in the probation period, you will lose the child’s share of the grant for that month.
  • Probation continues for six months in a row or until the child has no more than ten unexcused absences in the previous six months, whichever is longer. See DTA Online Guide (Learnfare Monthly Probation Report).
  • DTA suspended Learnfare during the pandemic. DTA restarted Learnfare tracking in November 2022. Absences before September 2022 will not be counted. DTA Online Guide Transmittal 2022-93 (Nov. 17, 2022)

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