Children in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Child-Only Cases with Relative Caregivers. 3.2.2 Identifying Child-Only Cases and Comparison Groups


A number of possible comparison groups were available to researchers in these data. The comparison groups examined are described in Table 3-1. These groups provided a wide continuum of characteristics and a context for understanding the service use, needs, and well-being of children in TANF child-only cases with relative caregivers in relation to their peers.

Table 3-1.
Descriptions of Comparison Groups
Comparison Group Description
TANFCOR Children who are receiving TANF child-only benefits and living with relative caregivers
TANFCOP Children who are receiving TANF child-only benefits but living with a parent
TANFHH Children living in households that receive TANF
LOWINC Children who are in low-income households but not receiving any TANF benefits
KINCARE Children living with relatives who are not receiving TANF
FOSTER Children living with nonrelatives in foster care
OTHER All other children (children living with parents in higher-income households that do not receive TANF)

The study staff used an algorithm developed by a member of the NSCAW analysis team to identify children in TANF child-only cases with relative caregivers from the NSCAW data. Researchers used an item on the interview of the child's current caregiver that asked for whom the TANF or AFDC benefits that were received by the household were provided. Project staff asked this question only of caregivers who indicated in a previous item that someone in the household presently receives TANF or AFDC. Possible responses regarding who received TANF or AFDC were (1) child and other household members, (2) child only, and (3) other household members only. Researchers then limited the child-only cases to those living with a primary or secondary caregiver who is a nonparental relative. The results indicated that at Wave 1 (baseline), 13 percent (weighted) of the cases that received TANF received them for the child only.

The algorithm for the creation of the comparison groups relied on information about whether children are living in their home or outside of their home, their relationship to their caregiver, whether their caregiver receives foster care payments, and who in the household receives TANF benefits. Study staff created categories hierarchically to be mutually exclusive, so if children met the criteria for being classified as child-only TANF living with a relative caregiver, they were excluded from subsequent categories for which they might qualify, such as KINCARE. The logic and order of comparison group creation are presented in Table 3-2.

Table 3-2.
Logic and Order of Comparison Group Creation
In Own Home Caregiver Foster Care Payments TANF Our Category N
Unweighted Weighted
N Relative N Child TANFCOR 54 13,954
Y Parent N Child TANFCOP 95 36,587
Y Parent N Household TANFHH 763 356,901
Y Parent N None LOWINC 1196 657,933
N Relative Some Some KINCARE 456 92,247
N Other Y N FOSTER 565 78,506
        OTHER 1,724 904,983

Children who are part of households receiving TANF benefits were identified from the same set of questions as the child-only cases, only this group comprises those children whose households reported that the household and child, or just the household, receives TANF benefits.

Researchers relied on a different set of questions to identify other children in out-of-home care with relative caregivers, or with nonrelative caregivers. Using a series of questions on the child's living arrangements, staff identified children living out of their homes and then examined the type of out-of-home care. The response categories specify kincare and foster home. For kincare, researchers required that the primary caregiver be related to the child but not a biological, adoptive, or step parent. For the foster care category, staff required that the parent reported receiving foster care payments. Because of small numbers in the kin foster care category, staff defined kincare as including both kin foster care and kin care without foster care payments. Some of these relative caregivers receive TANF for the entire household, as described in Section 2.2.1. Children living with nonrelatives receiving foster care payments were classified in the foster care group. Researchers did not include children who are in residential programs or group homes in either category.

To identify the comparison group that included children in households that were low income but not receiving TANF, staff used a categorical variable that asks respondents to choose an income category that reflects the total combined income of all members of the household over the past 12 months. Study staff created an algorithm that related household size, Federal Poverty Level (FPL), and reported income. Researchers used the NSCAW income increment that was closest to the FPL for a given family size, as shown in Table 3-3, and households that were at or below the FPL were included in the analysis.

View full report


"report.pdf" (pdf, 373.74Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®