TANF Child Only Cases

May 14, 2012 | Olivia Golden, Amelia Hawkins

This is a report by the Urban Institute.

Almost half of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cases are "child-only cases," which arise when no adult is included in the benefit calculation. This exclusion can happen if children live with relatives (or, in some states, specified nonrelatives) instead of with their parents or if parents are ineligible for TANF for certain reasons other than income.1 Despite their large share of the TANF caseload, child-only cases have generated little research relative to cases with adult recipients. This brief reviews the limited evidence available, including how child-only cases arise, their number and characteristics, children's well-being, available services, and implications for policy and research.

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Almost half of TANF cases are "child-only" in which no adult is included in the benefit calculation. In about 4 out of 10 these cases, the children live with relatives or nonrelatives instead of their parents. The other 6 in 10 cases include parents not eligible for benefits because they receive federal disability payments, are sanctioned for failure to comply with some TANF regulation, exceeded their time limit, or they are undocumented immigrants. This brief reviews the available research on child-only cases, including how cases arise, their characteristics, the children's well-being, and implications for policy and research.

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