Final Synthesis Report of Findings from ASPE "Leavers" Grants. Interactions with Child Welfare Services and Children Living Elsewhere


 Another way to assess the well-being of children is through their interactions with child welfare service agencies. Five studies report varying types of child welfare interactions and services, each of which are reported separately here (Table VII.3). Arizona, Illinois, Missouri, and Washington report interventions by child protective services, either out-of-home placements or substantiated abuse/neglect reports. The share of families involved with the child welfare system is relatively small in Arizona, Illinois, and Washington, from less than 1 percent to 2 percent. Missouri reports a higher rate (6 percent) of substantiated abuse/neglect reports.

Table VII.3:
Measures of Child Welfare Services and Other Outcomes for Single-Parent Leaver Families' Children


AZ 1 DC 1,2 GA IL 1,2 IA MA2 MO2 SC 1,2,3 WA 1

Child protective services


Out-of-home placements

0.1(0.2)     0.2(0.4)4         0.6(1)

Substantiated abuse/neglect

      0.7(1)4     6   2(4)

Foster care services


Child welfare services

        13   2    

Family preservation services

        1(2)   2    

Child sent to live with someone else

8(9) 5(6)   8(9)       5(5) 19(18) 5

Absent parent visits


    37 6     3 7      


    25     34      

Once/several times a year

    14     12      

One to three times a month

    10     11      

Once a week

    5     8      

Several times a week or more

    10     31      

1Numbers in parentheses are pre-exit for leavers for AZ, DC, and IL. Numbers in parantheses are for caseload in WA.
2Results are for all cases, not just single-parents.
3Results are for families that remain off of welfare at the time of the survey.
4Figures from administrative data in 2nd quarter after exit.
5Includes child in foster care, child sent to live with relatives, child lives with father.
6Includes leaver reports that father is dead or "like dead." Absent parent visit frequency asked of the 97% of children not living with their father.
7All leaver families regardless of whether both parents live in household were asked this question.
Source: See Appendix B for a complete listing of the leavers studies referenced.

Arizona, Illinois, and Washington report lower rates of these child welfare agency interactions after exit than before, but the numbers are so small that the differences may not be statistically significant. Finally, Iowa reports a higher rate of child welfare services use than other studies, 13 percent, but this includes interactions with foster care services (7 percent) as well as family preservation services (1 percent). These percentages are similar for the time period while families are receiving TANF.

 Another measure of child well-being focuses on whether children were displaced out of their homes due to financial problems. The percentage of leaver families where children were forced to live elsewhere ranges from 5 percent in DC to 19 percent in Washington. Note, however, that the percentage for Washington includes children entering foster care. The share of leavers experiencing this outcome is not much different after exit than before exit.

Interactions with Absent Parents. An additional concern for children in single-parent families is connection with an absent parent. Two studies report the frequency of visits from other parents Georgia, which asks about absent fathers, and Massachusetts, which asks about the other biological parent. Over a third of those asked this question in Massachusetts report the absent/other parent is either deceased or never visits (Table VII.3). In Georgia, 37 percent of absent fathers were either dead or defined as like dead and another 25 percent never visited, for a total of 62 percent with little or no contact. In Georgia, 15 percent of absent fathers visit once a week or more compared with 39 percent in Massachusetts.46