Interim Status Report on Research on the Outcomes of Welfare Reform. Disaggregating the TANF Child­Only Caseload in Three States


Nearly a quarter of all TANF cases are “child­only” assistance units in which there is no adult recipient, compared to a decade ago when only 12 percent of cases were of this type.  Child­only cases include households in which the child(ren) is living with adults who are not their parents, as well as cases where the parents are in the household but ineligible for benefits.  Today, there are wide variations among the states with regard to child­only cases:  they make up approximately 40% of Alabama’s caseload but only 8 percent of Maine’s caseload.  Currently there is only a limited understanding of the causes of the growth in child­only cases, the dynamics of these cases and how they differ from cases with adult recipients, and how the characteristics of families differ.  It is expected that such cases are likely to remain TANF recipients for longer periods of time than other cases.  The interactions between state policies and the formation of child­only cases will be among the issues examined, as will exit issues, such as when do such cases exit the TANF rolls and why, and how do exits of child­only cases compare to exits for other cases.

This study, conducted by the Lewin Group under contract to ASPE, is using administrative data, case file reviews, and interviews with case workers and policy staff in three states (California, Florida, and Missouri) to examine policy and programmatic issues regarding child­only cases.  The study is designed to obtain more detailed information about the make-up and trends in the child­only population in these states.  The study will concentrate on Alameda County in California and Kansas City in Missouri; the focus in Florida remains to be determined.

Estimated Completion Date:  Site visits will be conducted during the summer of 1999 and a report is expected by the end of 1999.