Understanding the AFDC/TANF Child-Only Caseload: Policies, Composition, and Characteristics in Three States. Affect of Increasing Child-Only Caseloads on Workload


In Duval, the proportion of child-only cases to the TANF caseload doubled from 34 percent in July 1997 to 68 percent in May 1999. Originally, the staff handled child-only cases or regular cases. Staff who had child-only caseloads had a caseload of 175 cases, while staff who had regular cases had 150 cases, recognizing that regular cases required more case management time. Recently, the county decided to combine the caseloads. Eligibility workers now have a mixed caseload of 150 child-only and regular cases. This was to alleviate the workload of those handling a regular caseload that was taking an increasing amount of time. As one worker mentioned: "We are down to the hard core cases [on the regular caseload]. They get a job, lose a job, [and] get a job." Staff have to monitor the work requirements, sanction noncompliant cases, ensure that the client is receiving child care and transportation, and track the time left on the clock, as well as conduct redeterminations. In contrast, the child-only cases typically only require staff to conduct redeterminations.

Jackson eligibility workers are specialized. Case workers who handle child-only cases also handle Medicaid-only cases. Their total caseload is about 225 cases, compared to an average caseload of 110 for self-sufficiency workers, who handle regular cases. They are anticipating an increase in the child-only caseload and in at least one office, there has been some discussion of bringing in an additional case worker to handle the increased child-only caseload.


1.  Noncompliant clients attend a counseling session and have 10 days to comply or show good cause before the sanction is imposed.

2.  For the first sanction, if the noncompliant individual does not meet a food stamp exemption, the food stamp case is closed for one month or until the individual complies, whichever occurs later; the other members of the household may reapply after one month. For the second and third sanctions, the household is ineligible for three months and six months, respectively; other members of the household can apply for food stamps after this period if the head of household is still noncompliant.

3.  J. Ferber and R. Storch (1998).  Full-Family Sanctions:  Not Worth the Risk.  Gateway Legal Services.  St. Louis, Missouri.

4.  J. Riccio, S. Friedlander, and D. Freedman with M. Farrell, V. Fellerath, S. Fox and D. Lehman (1994).  GAIN:  Benefits, Costs, and Three-Year Impacts of a Welfare-to-Work Program, MDRC, New York, NY.  According to this study, only 2 percent of AFDC single-parent cases in Alameda were referred for sanction and no one was sanctioned. This is the lowest referral rate of all counties studied, which included Butte (10 percent referred), Los Angeles (34 percent), Riverside (34 percent), San Diego (22 percent), and Tulare (12 percent).  A referral came from a GAIN worker, who monitored GAIN participation, and referred noncompliant cases to the eligibility workers for sanctioning.

5.  CalWORKs implementation reports posted on Alameda's Department of Welfare-to-Work web site:  www.co.alameda.ca.us/assistance/calworks.

6.  California officials indicated that these benefits would be paid for with state funds.

7.  Specifically, adults may receive an extension if they are:

  1. 60 years of age or older;
  2. A caretaker for an ill or incapacitated person, a dependent child of the court, or a child at risk of placement in foster care and are exempt from the welfare-to-work participation requirement;
  3. Disabled;
  4. Unable to maintain employment or participate based on the county's assessment and finding that the individual has a history of participation and full cooperation in welfare-to-work activities; or
  5. Unaided (the individual is out of the assistance unit for reasons other than exceeding the time limit).

8.  1998 "Green Book"; Washington, DC.

9.  California Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 11361.

10.  In California, food stamp redeterminations are every 12 months (the same as TANF redeterminations).

11.  Boots, S. and R. Geen (1999). Family Care or Foster Care? How State Policies Affect Kinship Caregivers. The Urban Institute. Washington, DC. This is a federal requirement; other states may provide state foster care benefits for relatives even though the children are not from needy families.

12.  Grandparents or relatives who refuse to participate in foster parent training may receive cash benefits but not respite care, a clothing allowance, and transportation services available to those who complete the training. In addition, for this group, the TANF five-year time limit applies and participation in a mandatory work training component is required.

13.  Previously, this program was reserved for grandparents age 55 and over. In August 1999, eligibility was broadened to include relatives other than grandparents and to include grandparents and relatives age 50 and over.