Understanding the AFDC/TANF Child-Only Caseload: Policies, Composition, and Characteristics in Three States. Characteristics of Child-Only Cases and Caregivers on the Case


  • Non-parental caregiver cases comprise two-thirds of child-only cases in Jackson and Duval Counties while most of the remaining cases are due to parental receipt of SSI; the Alameda County caseload is more evenly divided among non-parental caregiver, SSI, alien, and sanctioned cases.
  • The typical child-only case has two children in the assistance unit; there are somewhat fewer children in non-parental caregiver units than in parental caregiver units.  Nearly all of the focal children are of the same ethnic background as their caregiver, including non-parental caregiver cases.
  • Caregivers in child-only cases are older than those in regular TANF cases; within the child-only caseload, non-parental caregivers are substantially older than parental caregivers.
    • 56 to 63 percent of non-parental caregivers are over 50 years old;
    • 21 to 34 percent are over age 60; and
    • 6 to 9 percent are over age 70.
  • Two-thirds of non-parental caregivers are grandparents.  Over 20 percent are aunts or uncles.  It is not uncommon for great-grandparents to be caregivers.  Non-parental caregivers are almost always relatives tot he children.
  • While most child-only caregivers are not currently married, non-parental caregivers are more likely to be married than parental caregivers.  Non-parental caregivers, despite being older, are more likely to report employment than parental caregivers.
  • The length of time on TANF is related to the age of the focal child.  Thus, it is evident that children residing with non-parental caregivers in Alameda and Duval have older children and have received child-only TANF on the current case longer than those children residing with parents in these counties.  In Jackson, however, children residing with parents have older children, on average, and have been receiving child-only TANF for a longer period of time than their counterparts residing with non-parental caregivers.  Most absent parents were under age 40, single, and unemployed when on TANF.