Final Synthesis Report of Findings from ASPE "Leavers" Grants. Child Well-Being


Although virtually all families leaving welfare have children, it is difficult to assess child well-being from either administrative data or a single interview. Thus, leaver studies contain limited information about children's outcomes and well-being. For the studies reporting this information, findings on children's health insurance coverage, health status, behavior, interaction with child welfare services, and child care arrangements are summarized below.

  • Reports of children in poor or fair health are generally low, ranging from 5 to 10 percent. However, one-tenth to one-quarter of leaver families have children without health insurance.
  • Although the measures of child behavior are varied, most studies that compare behaviors pre- and post-exit find that the majority of leavers report child behavior is better after exit.
  • Rates of interaction with child welfare services range from 1 to 13 percent, including reports of abuse/neglect and foster care services. There is little evidence on whether the percentage of families involved in child welfare services changed after exiting TANF.
  • For child care, a substantial percentage of leaver families rely on parental care. For those using non-parental care, relatives and siblings of the child are by far the most common sources of care for children.

The fifteen ASPE-funded leaver studies reviewed here provide a considerable amount of information on the status of families leaving welfare. This synthesis focuses on key outcomes and measures of well-being that are commonly reported in these studies. In addition to these common elements, the individual studies also contain a rich array of information and subgroup analyses pertinent to understanding the status of former welfare recipients in their respective geographic areas.