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

02/01/2000

Non-parental cases are in many ways different from parental cases. The composition of the households varies while caregivers differ with respect to their age, employment, marital status, and income. The children who reside with these two types of caregivers also differ from one another in notable ways.

A. Household Composition (of Parental and Non-parental Caregiver Cases)

The typical child-only case has two children in the assistance unit, although there are fewer children, on average, in non-parental caregiver assistance units than there are in parental caregiver assistance units (Exhibit 3.4). The average number of recipient children in non-parental caregiver versus parental arrangements, respectively, is 1.6 and 2.0 in Alameda; 2.2 and 2.4 in Duval; and 1.8 and 1.9 in Jackson. State and county administrative data in Florida and Missouri reveal that the number of children per child-only assistance unit has remained static over time.(3)

Exhibit 3.4
Household Composition, by County and Type of Caregiver
  Alameda County Duval County Jackson County
Parent Non-Parent Parent Non-Parent Parent Non-Parent
Number of recipient children (%)
One 41.1 59.0 27.3 38.2 39.5 57.2
Two 34.4 26.9 34.1 28.0 33.7 23.0
Three 16.7 10.3 22.7 17.8 20.9 11.2
Four 3.1 3.8 12.5 10.8 4.7 5.3
Five or more 4.7 0.0 3.4 5.1 1.2 3.3
Average number of children in assistance unit 2.0 1.6 2.4 2.2 1.9 1.8
Average number of children in household 2.2 1.7 2.7 2.6 NA NA
Average number of adults in household 1.4 1.6 1.4 1.5 NA NA
Sample size 194 79 90 159 86 153

In Duval and Alameda counties, parental cases tend to have more children and fewer adults in the household, on average, than non-parental caregiver cases. Parental cases average 2.2 children and 1.4 adults per household in Alameda, and 2.7 children and 1.4 adults per household in Duval. Non-parental caregivers house 1.7 children and 1.6 adults in Alameda and 2.6 children and 1.5 adults in Duval, on average; households in Duval have slightly fewer adults than in Alameda but are larger overall.

The number of children in the household may differ from the number of children in the assistance unit for a variety of reasons including: 1) some children in the household may be receiving SSI and, thus, are likely ineligible to receive TANF; 2) some children in alien households may not be qualified aliens; 3) the children of the non-parental caregiver may be living in the household and ineligible for TANF due to their parent's income; and 4) the number of children in the household reflects information reported on the application, whereas the number of children in the assistance unit refers to the May 1999 case. Thus, the household composition may have changed from the time of the application to the date of the review.

As illustrated in Exhibit 3.4 and mentioned above, cases reviewed in Duval county had a significantly larger number of children in both the household and the assistance unit than did the other two counties. In Duval, 15.9 percent of all child-only cases had four or more recipient children while 6.6 percent and 7.6 percent of cases in Alameda and Jackson, respectively, had four or more children in the assistance unit.

B. Race / Ethnicity

Nearly all of the focal children share the same ethnic background as their caregiver, including non-parental caregiver cases. Therefore, any reference to a caregiver's race is applicable to that of the focal child as well. The racial make-up of the child-only cases reviewed in each county is outlined in Exhibit 3.5.

Exhibit 3.5
Ethnicity of Caregiver and Focal Child, by County and Type of Caregiver
  Alameda County Duval County Jackson County
Parent Non-Parent Parent Non-Parent Parent Non-Parent
Race/ethnicity of caregiver (%)
White 9.3 15.2 26.7 22.0 15.1 22.9
Black 48.5 69.6 72.2 76.1 61.6 72.5
Hispanic 29.9 11.4 0.0 1.9 19.8 2.0
Asian 10.8 3.8 0.0 0.0 1.2 0.7
Other / Unknown 1.5 0.0 1.1 0.0 2.3 2.0
Race/ethnicity of focal child (%)
White 9.3 13.9 24.4 20.8 17.4 21.6
Black 49.0 69.6 73.3 76.7 59.3 73.9
Hispanic 28.9 11.4 0.0 2.5 18.6 2.6
Asian 10.8 3.8 0.0 0.0 2.3 0.7
Other / Unknown 2.1 1.3 2.2 0.0 2.3 1.3
Sample size 194 79 90 159 86 153

The ethnic composition of child-only cases, while it differs between state and county, largely reflects the type of cases of the TANF caseload as a whole in each county (see Appendix Exhibit C.2). Thus, where the county's entire caseload (including cases with an adult recipient) is disproportionately black as a whole, the same is true for the child-only portion. In addition, ethnicity of child-only cases has remained fairly static over time in Florida and Duval County and Missouri and Jackson County.

The case file review data permit the comparison of race by type of caregiver in each county. Analysis reveals that the caregiver's race differs in Alameda and Jackson depending on whether the individual is a parental or a non-parental caregiver (these two counties have a considerable proportion of Hispanics in the caseload). Both Hispanic and Asian caregivers in the child-only caseloads in Alameda and Jackson are more likely to be parental caregivers than non-parental caregivers. A greater proportion of the non-parental cases in these two counties are comprised of blacks and whites.

C. Age

Age is outlined in several exhibits in this report. Average ages of child-only cases reviewed are displayed for caregivers in Exhibit 3.6, for focal child in Exhibit 3.7, and for caregivers and focal children on Alameda parental cases by type of case in Appendix Exhibit B.1. Age statistics concerning regular and child-only cases calculated from state and county administrative data are located in the appendix. (Appendix Exhibits C.1 and C.2 present caregiver ages, and Appendix Exhibits C.3 and C.4 present average ages of the youngest child in the assistance unit.)

1. Age of Caregiver

Unlike race and ethnicity, the age of the caregiver in the child-only population is not reflective of the total TANF population in each county. Caregivers (payees) on child-only cases are older, on average, than payees in regular TANF cases. This is primarily due to the fact that a significant portion of the caregivers on child-only cases are grandparents or great-grandparents. In Duval County, the average age of a regular payee is 31 years of age, compared to 45 years of age for a child-only payee. In Jackson County, the average age of a payee in a regular TANF case is 29 years of age while in child-only cases it is 44 years of age, a difference of 16 years (see Appendix Exhibit C.1).

Within the child-only caseload, non-parental caregivers are substantially older than parental caregivers. The average age of the caregiver in parental cases (Exhibit 3.6) ranges from 33 to 35 years of age while the average age of the non-parental caregivers ranges from 50 to 54 years of age. Sixty-one percent of non-parental caregivers in Alameda, 63 percent in Duval, and 56 percent in Jackson are 50 years of age or older (compared to 5, 2 and 8 percent of parental caregivers, respectively). In fact, a surprising proportion of non-parental caregivers are over age 60, and some are over 70 years of age. This is especially evident in California where nearly one-quarter of non-parental caregivers are between 60 and 69 years of age while 9 percent are 70 and above; 8 and 6 percent of non-parental caregivers in Duval and Jackson, respectively, are age 70 or above.

Within the parental caregiver caseload, SSI parents in Alameda are older than sanctioned and non-qualified alien parents and have older children. As noted in Appendix Exhibit B.1, the average age of SSI parents in Alameda is 39 years of age. Parental caregivers that do not receive aid due to alien and sanction status are noticeably younger than the SSI parents in the county. Alien parents are 9 years younger than SSI parents while those in sanction status are 7 years younger than the SSI parents in Alameda.

Exhibit 3.6
Age of the Caregiver, by County and Type of Caregiver
  Alameda County Duval County Jackson County
Age group Parent Non-Parent Parent Non-Parent Parent Non-Parent
Age of the caregiver (%):
Under 20 3.7 1.3 8.9 0.6 7.1 2.0
20 - 29 36.1 5.2 30.0 1.3 27.4 4.7
30 - 39 34.6 3.9 37.8 10.8 34.5 14.1
40 - 49 20.4 28.6 21.1 24.2 22.6 22.8
50 - 59 3.7 27.3 2.2 32.5 6.0 34.9
60 - 69 1.6 24.7 0.0 22.3 1.2 15.4
70 and over 0.0 9.1 0.0 8.3 1.2a/ 6.0
Average age (years) 33.6 53.8 32.5 53.6 35.4 50.1
Median age (years) 32.2 55.7 32.7 53.6 36.9 52.1
Sample size 194 79 90 159 86 153
a/ Most of the elderly parental caregivers are male. The remaining near-elderly caregivers have older (teenaged) focal children.

In Duval, the age of the caregiver (defined as the payee on the case) has declined over time. As exhibited in Appendix Exhibit C.1, the proportion of child-only caregivers under the age of 20 has decreased dramatically over time. In 1997, 24 percent of child-only payees were under the age of 20 (most of whom were age 18 and under); in May 1999, 7 percent of payees were under the age of 20. It is assumed that this shift is a result of a policy change in the state which mandated that a minor parent could no longer be a payee but had to be living at home or in an adult-supervised setting - the adult receives the benefit check. This large decrease in the number of payees under the age of 20 drove the average age of the caregiver from 34 in 1997 to 45 in 1999. The average age of 45 in Duval is equivalent to the average age of a child-only payee in Jackson in both 1994 and 1999.

2. Age of Focal Child

As with the age of the caregiver, the age of the focal child in the child-only population is not reflective of the total TANF population in Duval and Jackson counties. Children in child-only cases, as compared to those in regular TANF cases, are older on average. The age of children on regular TANF versus child-only cases is outlined in Appendix Exhibits C.3 and C.4 and reveals that in Duval and Jackson counties, about one-third of the youngest children on regular TANF cases were over age six compared to two-thirds of youngest children in child-only cases.

Within the child-only caseload, the age of the child is related to the type of caregiver (Exhibit 3.7). In Alameda and Duval, the focal children residing with non-parental caregivers are older, on average, than the focal children residing with a parent. In all three sites, the median age of the focal child is greater for those children residing with a non-parental caregiver.

The age of the youngest child in the Duval child-only caseload has increased slightly over time, according to administrative data. In July 1997, the youngest child in a child-only assistance unit averaged 7.8 years of age. This figure has since increased to 8.3 years of age in May 1999. This is also evident in the age distribution (Appendix Exhibit C.3). A larger portion of children fell into the two and under category in 1997 (20 versus 17 percent), and a smaller portion of the 1997 caseload fell into the 6 and over range (58 versus 64 percent).

Exhibit 3.7
Age of the Focal Child, by County and Type of Caregiver
  Alameda County Duval County Jackson County
Age group Parent Non-Parent Parent Non-Parent Parent Non-Parent
Age of the focal child (%):
2 and under 22.7 5.1 15.6 12.6 17.4 7.8
3 to 5 13.4 12.7 13.3 10.7 19.8 12.4
6 to 8 25.8 17.7 23.3 17.6 15.1 17.0
9 to 11 14.9 20.3 20.0 23.9 12.8 20.9
12 to 15 12.4 25.3 17.8 25.2 18.6 28.8
16 to 19 10.8 19.0 10.0 10.1 16.3 13.1
Average age (years) 8.1 10.8 8.9 9.9 9.1 8.6
Median age (years) 7.8 11.5 8.5 10.2 8.2 10.7
Sample size 194 79 90 159 86 153

D. Marital Status

Marital status is another characteristic that varies appreciably between parental and non-parental caregiver cases; however, the rates vary little across counties. As noted in Exhibit 3.8, while most caregivers are not currently married, non-parental caregivers are more likely to be married than parental caregivers. In Alameda, around 13 percent of parental caregivers (whose marital status is known) are married while over 37 percent of non-parental caregivers in the sample are married. Similarly, in Duval, only 6 percent of parents are noted as being currently married, compared with 32 percent of non-parental caregivers.(4) The percent of cases where the caregiver is divorced, widowed, or separated is also higher among the non-parental caregiver cases.

Exhibit 3.8
Marital Status of Caregivers, by County and Type of Caregiver
  Alameda County Duval County Jackson County
Marital Status (% of known) Parent Non-Parent Parent Non-Parent Parent Non-Parent
Married, living with spouse 12.8 37.1 5.6 32.1 NA NA
Single 62.2 22.6 58.9 17.0 NA NA
Divorced, widowed, or separated 25.0 40.3 35.6 50.9 NA NA
Sample size 194 79 90 159 86 153

The administrative data available for Florida and Duval County indicate that a larger percentage of child-only caregivers (including parental and non-parental caregivers) were married in May 1999, as compared to July 1997 (Appendix Exhibits C.1and C.2). In Duval, 12 percent of child-only caregivers were married in 1997 while 22 percent were married in 1999. Similarly, throughout the entire state, 11 percent of child-only caregivers were married in 1997 while 19 percent were married in 1999. Marital status has changed minimally for regular TANF caregivers in Florida and Duval County.

E. Length of Time on Welfare and in Child-Only Status

The average length of time on TANF, for the focal child's current case, is depicted in Exhibit 3.9. This exhibit reveals that children in parental cases have been receiving aid with that caregiver for 36 months in Alameda, 40 months in Duval, and 45 months in Jackson, on average. Children cared for by non-parental caregivers in Alameda have received aid the longest on their child-only case, averaging 55 months. Non-parental caregiver children in Duval are only slightly behind receiving 50 months of TANF; children in non-parental caregiver units in Jackson have received an average of 36 months of child-only TANF with their current caregiver.

Exhibit 3.9
Average Months of TANF Received
by Focal Child on the Current Child-Only Case
Type of Case Alameda Duval Jackson
Parental caregiver cases 35.8 39.6 45.1
Non-parental caregiver cases 55.0 49.9 36.1

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 who 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.