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


As discussed above, this study focuses more attention on the policies and caseload composition of California, Florida, and Missouri child-only cases and, in particular, Alameda, Duval, and Jackson counties. These states were not selected randomly, but were selected after examining HHS data with regard to the TANF child-only composition and size of child-only caseloads.

The study sought to include three states that had a large and increasing proportion of TANF child-only caseloads, that offered geographic diversity, and that implemented different policies that might be reflected in the composition of child-only cases. Because cooperation and assistance were key in conducting this study, only states that indicated an interest in participating in the study were considered.

After selecting the states, discussions were held with state officials to select a county for the case file review. Only counties with sufficiently large child-only caseloads for a case file review could be considered. In addition, since the California caseload would have a relatively high percentage of aliens, a county in Florida that had a relatively low percentage of aliens was selected for diversity. With this general guidance, each state selected counties that were amenable to a case file review.

Exhibit 1.7 presents a summary of some of the major characteristics of the program environment of the state and selected counties. Below is a brief description of each county.

  • Alameda County, California, which is located on the east side of San Francisco Bay, is the largest and most urban county in this study, with a population of 1.4 million. Oakland is the largest city in Alameda County, with a population of 387,600 (1995) followed by Fremont, Hayward, and Berkeley. The population is ethnically more diverse than the other two counties, with a higher share of Hispanics and Asians. It has the highest median household income and the lowest poverty rate relative to the other two counties. The county has the largest TANF caseload and offers the highest TANF grant.
  • Duval County, Florida includes the city of Jacksonville and a few neighboring beach communities. In Duval, the population is about two-thirds white; it has a higher share of blacks (28 percent) compared with the state and U.S. average. The unemployment rate in Duval is lower than the state, overall, and lower than the other two counties.
  • Jackson County, Missouri includes Kansas City, Independence, and Grandview. While Missouri is more rural than the U.S., on average, Jackson County has only a small share of the population living in rural areas. It has the highest share of whites (70 percent) relative to the other two counties; one-quarter of the county is black.

Exhibit 1.7
Characteristics of the Counties, States, and United States
Characteristics of the Counties, States, and United States.


1.  For example, adults may be ineligible if they have a drug felony conviction.

2.  Kaplan, J. (1999). The Use of Sanctions Under TANF.  Welfare Information Network. Washington, DC.

3.  Kramer, F. (1997). Welfare Reform and Immigrants:  Recent Developments and a Review of Key State Decisions.  Welfare Information Network. Washington, DC.

4.  States can choose not to provide assistance to qualified aliens who entered the country before August 1996.

5.  These alternative state programs, which are discussed for three states below, may also be considered alternatives to foster care for relative caregivers.  Foster care often requires licensing, home studies, and supervision by child welfare agencies, although payments may be higher.

6.  Federal Register, Vol. 64, No. 69. April 12, 1999.

7.  Department of Health and Human Services (1999).  Second Annual Report to Congress.  Washington, DC.

8.  TANF cases with an adult in the assistance unit will be referred in this report as "regular TANF cases."

9.  The time limit applies to sanctioned cases in many states.

10.  A range was constructed for the five missing states, assuming for the upper-bound estimate that the child-only caseload was equal to the 1997 child-only caseload in the state and for the lower-bound estimate that the child-only caseload declined by the same percentage reduction as the total TANF caseload for the state.  An analysis of the states and regions that reported reliable data found that about half of the states experienced reductions in the child-only caseload and the percent reduction was less than the percent reduction in the total TANF caseload.

11.  Note that the "other parental" cases are cases headed by parents who in most cases were not receiving benefits, but the reasons could not be determined from state-submitted data.  They may have been ineligible because they were felons, had committed fraud, or other state-specific reasons.  Some probably should have been classified as an SSI recipient, an alien, or a sanctioned adult, but the exact reason was unknown.  Finally, some administrative data systems classify cases headed by minor parents who are receiving benefits as child-only cases.

12.  A description of the state waivers approved between January 1993 and August 1996 can be found on:  http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/isp/waiver2/waivers.htm.

13.  Stapleton, D. C., M. E. Fishman, G. A. Livermore, D. Wittenburg, A. Tucker, & S. Scrivner (1999).  Policy Evaluation of the Overall Effects of Welfare Reform on SSA Programs:  Final Report.  Report by The Lewin Group prepared for the Social Security Administration. Washington, DC.

14.  Fix, M. and J. Passel (1994).  Immigration and Immigrants Setting the Record Straight.  Urban Institute. Washington, DC.

15.  Harden, A. W., and R. L. Clark (1997). Informal and Formal Kinship Care.  Report prepared for HHS, ASPE, Washington, DC.

16.  Some states remove some of the foster care licensing requirements for relative caregivers.