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


As Exhibit 1.6 illustrates, the proportion of child-only cases has been steadily increasing from 1988 to 1998 (right-hand axis). During this period, the proportion of TANF cases comprised of child-only cases increased from 10 percent to 23 percent. The proportion continued to increase during the last two years despite the fact that the absolute number of child-only cases declined.

Exhibit 1.6
AFDC/TANF Families With No Adult Recipients, 1985 - 1998

(Number and Percentage of Total AFDC/TANF Families)

Exhibit 1.6: AFDC/TANF Families With No Adult Recipients, 1985-1998.

a/  1998 child-only data are unavailable or not reliable for five states/regions. As discussed in Section III.C, the total number of child-only cases is estimated to be between 739,000 and 753,000 for fiscal year 1998, if these states/regions were included.

Note:  The total number of child-only cases here differs slightly from the total number of no-adult cases in Exhibit A  [in the Executive Summary] due to rounding and differences in the identification of subgroups.

Source:  Department of Health and Human Services, ACF, Characteristics and Financial Circumstances of AFDC Recipients, 1994 and Characteristics of Financial Circumstances of TANF Recipients, 1998.


The child-only cases are not declining as rapidly as regular TANF cases, in part, because they are generally not subject to the work requirements and time limits imposed on regular cases. In addition, because TANF excludes non-parental caregivers' income in determining benefits for child-only cases, these caregivers of child-only cases are able to work while children remain eligible for cash assistance. Thus, these cases are not likely to be closed due to income limits.