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TANF Literacy Initiative

Almost 50 percent of adults on welfare do not have a high school diploma or GED. Welfare recipients with low education skills stay on welfare the longest; those with stronger educational skills become self-sufficient more quickly. - National Institute for Literacy

About the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Initiative

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries’ TANF Literacy Initiative was established in 1998. Through this unique collaboration between the Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), library and community-based literacy programs offer basic literacy instruction to TANF clients.

Local sites provide up to 30 hours of instruction each week in reading, math, writing, and life skills instruction. Clients are referred to local programs after initial assessments by DHS staff. Clients remain in the program until they are employed or reach a sixth grade proficiency level and are referred to other DHS education partners.

The TANF Literacy Initiative is supported by funds provided to ODL by DHS. Participating programs receive resources, support, and funding to assist them in providing expanded literacy services. Programs currently participating in this initiative are:

TANF Instructors in action

Can an Anatomy Lesson be Tasty and Memorable?

Why yes it can! Ms. Erica Hawkins, TANF instructor in Poteau, provided her students with a memorable anatomy lesson using candy. Students were instructed to thread a licorice strip, representing the spinal cord, through a set of ring-shaped hard candies, representing vertebrae, and insert gummy candy, representing the fibrocartilage between disks, between the hard candy. Small licorice strips were tied on to represent the nerve clusters in the spinal column. The end result was a Miniature Candy Spine. This hands-on activity was designed to help students learn and retain a complicated anatomy lesson.


Gail Sperry, Adult Education Instructor, received an award at “Making It Work Day" at the Capitol. The award is for Outstanding Instructor of Non-Traditional Students in Northeast Oklahoma. Gail taught the TANF class in Jay for many years. She is pictured here with Senator Tom Woods. 

The awards are sponsored by Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, Oklahoma Human Services, and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

 Congratulations, Gail!

For more information, contact the Literacy Resource Office.

Last Modified on Mar 21, 2023
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