Children in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Child-Only Cases with Relative Caregivers. 3.2.4 Summary

06/01/2004

Overall, the NSCAW data paint a fairly reassuring picture of the well-being of children in TANF child-only cases with relative caregivers when compared to children in other groups. There are no significant indications in service use, service needs, or child well-being measures that this group is exceptionally vulnerable or ill-served. Compared with other children supported by TANF and other children in out-of-home care, children in TANF child-only cases with relative caregivers appear to have equal or better use of preventive health care and lower use of emergency room and inpatient care. They also appear to have comparable or favorable developmental status indicators. Relative caregivers are less likely to report using support services such as food stamps and housing assistance.

Children in TANF child-only cases with relative caregivers compare favorably with other children supported by TANF on most measures, with many similarities to other children in out-of-home care.

The only area of possible vulnerability for these children is in measures of behavioral and emotional well-being, although many of these differences are not statistically significant. Compared to other children supported by TANF, children in TANF child-only cases with relative caregivers show some indications of increased behavioral problems among younger children, as well as increased rates of trauma and depression. These may reflect the effects of disrupted parental relationships. On these measures, children in TANF child-only cases with relative caregivers are similar to other children in out-of-home care, and in some cases report less favorable conditions. However, that interpretation of the NSCAW data should be tempered with the understanding that all children surveyed have had some contact with Child Protective Services, so that children in the TANFHH and TANFCOP categories do not represent the larger populations of TANF recipients. Another caveat is that given the small sample sizes and large standard errors, there may be differences between groups that were not detectable.

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