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).
- Learnfare does not apply to your child if you are disabled. For disability, see How do you qualify for a disability exemption?
- Learnfare does not apply to children who are not the grant because they get SSI benefits or because of their noncitizen status.
- Is your child missing school because of a learning disability or other disability? You can get the absence marked as excused. See How do you verify school attendance and which absences are excused? You can also ask for a disability accommodation. See
- Is your child in a private, parochial, or home-school program? DTA may ask you to verify your child's school and may close your case if you don't respond. This may not be legal. For help, contact your local legal services program. See Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices,
- It may not be lawful for DTA to close your case if it doesn’t get the monthly probationary report on time. For help, contact your local legal services program. See Appendix D: Massachusetts Legal Services Offices,
- DTA cannot terminate the family grant even if the only child on the grant is under a Learnfare sanction. DTA Transitions, Aug. 2004, p. 3
- DTA may consider any child age 6 or older to be subject to the Learnfare requirement. See DTA Online GuideTransmittal 2015-68 (Dec. 21, 2015), DTA Online Guide (Learnfare Introduction). DTA should not consider a six-year old child to be school age if the child has not yet started school and will still be six next September when school starts. See DTA Online Guide Transmittal 2014-48 (Aug. 14, 2014).
- DTA says children 16 or 17 must be in school full-time or register for the Pathways to Work Program (formerly the Employment Services Program). 106 C.M.R. § 707.000 (C). This may be illegal; contact [email protected] if this is a problem for you. Also consider asking for an accommodation on the basis of disability or learning disability. See