Understanding the AFDC/TANF Child-Only Caseload: Policies, Composition, and Characteristics in Three States. Absent Parents


In most of the non-parental caregiver case files, a limited amount of information was available concerning the child's absent parent(s). Where information was available on both absent parents, the mother's information was collected. In instances where the parent was once a TANF case head or a child-only caregiver to the focal child, that information was used to supplement the information available on absent parents.

As indicated in Exhibit 3.18 most absent parents are under the age of 40 and were single and unemployed at TANF application. There are no substantial differences in the figures across the three counties.

Exhibit 3.18
Absent Parent Characteristics, by County
Characteristic Alameda Duval Jackson
Age (%)
Under 20 4.6 0.9 3.9
20 - 29 27.7 41.1 29.4
30 - 39 36.9 44.6 53.9
40 - 49 29.2 12.5 12.7
50 and over 1.5 0.9 0.0
Average age 34.5 32.3 32.2
Median age 34.5 31.2 32.8
Marital status at the time of earlier TANF application (%)
Married, living with spouse 10.1 11.3 5.9
Single 86.1 81.8 83.7
Unknown 3.8 6.9 10.5
Married (% of known) 10.5 12.2 6.6
Single (% of known) 89.5 87.8 93.4
Employment status at the time of earlier TANF application (%)
Employed (any hours) 5.1 2.5 3.3
Not employed/Out of labor force 43.0 42.8 42.5
Unknown 51.9 54.7 54.2
Sample size 79 159 153


1.  This analysis can be done with the use of administrative data. These data are only available for Florida and Duval County and Missouri and Jackson County.

2.  Alameda has a higher percentage of aliens. In addition, Alameda's sanction policy results in child-only cases while a portion of Duval's sanctioned cases are child-only (most are closed), and Jackson's sanctioned cases are not categorized as child-only.

3.  From July 1997 to May 1999 in Duval/Florida, and from May 1994 to May 1999 in Jackson/Missouri.

4.  Marital status was not collected on benefit application or redetermination forms in Jackson County.

5.  A more detailed account of the type of sanction case for parental caregivers in each county is outlined in Appendix Exhibit B.3. The percentages in Appendix Exhibit B.3 differ from those in Exhibit 3.12 due to the fact that those cases that have never been regular TANF cases and are child-only for "unknown" and "other" reasons are not included in the denominator of Exhibit 3.12.

6.  This is noted in Appendix Exhibit B.2.

7.  Some TANF applications did reveal employment information; for food stamp recipients, this information could be determined from food stamp applications.

8.  The sample of non-parental cases in Alameda is only 79; 19 of these cases indicated that the caregiver's employment status was unknown, leaving only 60 non-parental caregivers with which to calculate these figures.

9.  These amounts are likely underestimated as those with unknown values for "other income" were assumed to have $0 in "other income."