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


The characteristics of child-only cases vary across states, counties, and type of caregiver (for example, parent versus non-parent). Demographics and policy choices in each state and county affect the characteristics and composition of the child-only caseload. This chapter focuses on the child-only caseload in California, Florida, and Missouri, and presents more detailed information for Alameda, Duval, and Jackson counties.

Section II begins with a discussion of the composition of child-only cases at the state level and continues by outlining the composition of child-only cases at the county-level. Section III explores demographic characteristics of the caregiver and focal child including race, age, household size, marital status, and time on welfare. Section IV follows with a description of the number of caregivers of focal children and their transitions into child-only status, exploring transitions into parental and non-parental cases separately and examining reasons why the caregiver is not receiving assistance. The discussion of non-parental cases outlines the reasons why the child came to live with the caregiver as well as the caregiver's relationship to the child. Section V discusses the characteristics that are particular to caregivers, including earnings and income. Section VI briefly discusses characteristics of absent parents.

Comparisons are made across counties and between different types of child-only cases (i.e., between parental and non-parental caregivers). Whenever possible, characteristics at the state and county level are compared as well as characteristics of each county's caseload across time.(1) To the extent possible, data were analyzed to allow for comparisons to be made between groups within the parental caregiver caseload (for example, SSI, alien, and sanctioned cases). However, sample size issues only permit this analysis to be done reliably in Alameda County.

Data sources for all exhibits in the chapter are the case file reviews unless otherwise noted. Additional analysis of case file data is included in Appendix B. State and county-level administrative data analysis is presented in Appendix C.