Children in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Child-Only Cases with Relative Caregivers. 4.2.1 Demographics of TANF Child-Only Cases with Relative Caregivers


As depicted in Section 2, child-only cases have been growing in proportion since the enactment of PRWORA in 1996. Characteristics of the child-only caseload and their relative caregivers varied among the states participating in the case studies.


The most recent national data on children in child-only cases comes from the Fifth Annual TANF Report to Congress (DHHS, 2003) and is based on data collected between October 2000 and September 2001. Table 4-2 summarizes these nationally collected data for the five states.

Table 4-2.
Characteristics of TANF Child-Only Cases, FY2001
State Number of Children in TANF Child-Only Caseload Children in Child-Only Cases with No Parent in Household Percent of Children in TANF Child-Only Relative Care Who Live with Grandparent
Number Percent of All Children in TANF Child-Only Caseload
Louisiana 21,770 9,818 45.1% 72%
Maryland 18,207 13,328 73.2% 68%
Oklahoma 11,081 6,172 55.7% 71%
Washington 29,320 14,572 49.7% 62%
Wisconsin 21,878 9,823 44.9% 56%
U.S. Total 1,391,263 517,550 37.2% 59%
Sources: Fifth Annual TANF Report to Congress (DHHS, 2003).

"A relative typically comes in and states that they have the child because of [parental] drug use or incarceration. Most of the time they don't know the whereabouts of the parent."

TANF Eligibility Worker, Maryland

While specific statistics were not available, all five states involved in the in-depth analysis consistently reported parents' drug use and incarceration as the primary reason leading to placement out of the home. Oklahoma informants reported that most of the child-only cases come from the relative taking care of the children because a mother is incarcerated. Additionally, informants in Oklahoma and Washington noted the prevalence of methamphetamine laboratories and substance abuse as a primary reason for relatives being called upon to care for the children of their kin. Often, parents will approach a relative for temporary placement while they seek substance abuse treatment or rehabilitation; however, these persons often relapse into substance abuse and the children remain in the care of the relative.


All five states participating in the in-depth analysis reported that children in child-only relative caregiver cases were most likely to reside with a grandparent. Based on data from the Report to Congress (DHHS, 2003), this proportion ranged from 56 percent in Wisconsin to 72 percent in Louisiana, as shown in Table 4-3. Aunts were reported as the second-most common relative caring for a child in a child-only relative caregiver case. In the record review of 148 cases child-only cases with relative caregivers across all 5 states, researchers identified 44 cases where relatives other than grandparents were serving as caregiver, although this review is not representative of all cases.

While all states thought that the majority of their grandparent relative caregivers were "younger grandparents," few states had specific statistics regarding the average or mean age of the grandparent caregiver. Washington State reported the median age of relative/kinship caregivers to be 50 years, compared to 34 years for ineligible parents and 40 years for unrelated caregivers (Washington State DSHS, 2003). The age of these grandparents and other relative caregivers is significant because it indicates that many relative caregivers are working. As such, they are in need of support for day care and after-school care services. Their work performance may also be affected by difficulties finding affordable day care or children's behavioral problems that interfere with their day care or school attendance.

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