Department of Human Services

Families First Online Policy Manual






Table of Contents


To determine that a child is deprived of parental support because of absence, the caseworker must establish that at least one natural parent is absent from the home in which the child lives.  As a condition of Families First eligibility, the remaining parent or caretaker relative must give required information about the absent parent and cooperate with the IV-D agency as necessary.  If the absent parent has a separate living arrangement from the child for which Families First is requested, absence can be considered to exist.  Visits from the absent parent need not be based on a court order or other formal arrangement if the absence from the home is established as follows:


Absence from the home may exist because of any of the following:


·        Divorce of natural parents and only one or neither parent remains in the home with the child.


·        Separation of parents.


·        Desertion of one or both parents.


·        Imprisonment of one or both parents.


·        Institutionalization of one or both parents.


·        One or both parents are serving a court imposed sentence of unpaid public service while residing at home.


·        Single parent adoptions.


Continued absence will be considered to exist when one or both parents is/are out of the home and the nature of the absence:


·        Interrupts or terminates the parent’s functioning as a provider of maintenance, physical care, or guidance for the child, and


·        Is known (e.g.; institutionalization of parent in medical psychiatric facilities, incarceration, etc.) or the indefinite duration of the absence precludes counting on the parent to perform his/her function in planning for the parent support or care for the child.


How do we determine when continued absence exists?


In the great majority of cases, absence exists when one of the parents does not live in the home with the child.


When a parent lives outside the child’s home his or her ability to provide maintenance, physical care, and guidance is usually interrupted, and absence can be presumed to exist.


If the child was born out-of-wedlock and paternity has not been subsequently established, absence is presumed to exist.


In Tennessee, if a father “has legitimated,” i.e., has completed legal action to legitimate a child and lives in the home with that child, the child is NOT deprived of parental support on the basis of continued absence.


By the same token, if a father has acknowledged his blood relationship with the child by a, “voluntary acknowledgement of paternity,” and lives in the home with that child, the child is NOT deprived of parental support on the basis of continued absence.


Note: If the child is determined not to be deprived of parental support on the basis of absence, and is otherwise, eligible, determine if one of the parents is incapacitated or unemployed.


Both federal and state policy support the maintenance and strengthening of family ties. “Absence” does not preclude the parent who does not live with the child from visiting with the child regularly, taking the child on outings or for visits in his/her home or otherwise building an ongoing positive relationship with the child.  The absent parent can and should be an important influence in the child’s life.  An absent parent’s purchase of small necessary items or items of clothing for a child is by no means evidence that deprivation does not exist.  The absent parent may still maintain a relationship with the dependent child and is encouraged to do so.





Absence Menu