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[IWS] CRS: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Characteristics of the Cash Assistance Caseload [21 August 2013]

IWS Documented News Service

_______________________________

Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

________________________________________________________________________

 

Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Characteristics of the Cash Assistance Caseload

Gene Falk, Specialist in Social Policy

August 21, 2013

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43187.pdf

[full-text, 25 pages]

 

Summary

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant provides states, territories,

and Indian tribes with federal grants for benefits and services to ameliorate the effects, and

address the root causes, of child poverty. It was created in the 1996 welfare reform law, and is

most associated with policies such as time limits and work requirements that sought to address

concerns about “welfare dependency” of single mothers who received cash assistance. This report

examines the characteristics of the TANF cash assistance caseload in FY2010, and compares it

with selected post-welfare reform years (FY2001 and FY2006) and pre-welfare reform years

(FY1988 and FY1994). The size of the caseload first increased, from 3.7 million families per

month in FY1988 to 5.0 million families per month in FY1994, and then declined dramatically to

2.2 million families in FY2001 and 1.9 million families in FY2010. Over this period, some of the

characteristics of the TANF cash assistance caseload have remained fairly stable, and other

characteristics have changed.

 

Most cash assistance families are small; 51.7% of all TANF cash assistance families in FY2010

had one child. Cash assistance families also frequently have young children; 57.9% in FY2010

had a pre-school-aged child. The majority of the cash assistance caseload has also been composed

of racial and ethnic minorities. By FY2010, the largest racial/ethnic group of TANF cash

assistance children was Hispanic. In that year, of all TANF assistance child recipients, 34.1%

were Hispanic, 31.7% were African-American, and 27.1% were non-Hispanic white. The growth

in Hispanic children as a percent of all TANF assistance children is due entirely to their

population growth—not an increase in the rate at which Hispanic children receive TANF.

 

Additionally, the majority of adult recipients today, as in the past, are women—specifically, single

mothers. However, the share of the caseload comprised of families with an adult recipient has

declined substantially in the post-welfare reform period. Almost 4 out of 10 families receiving

TANF cash assistance in FY2010 represented “child-only” families, in which benefits are paid on

behalf of the child in the family but the adult caretaker is ineligible for TANF. The three main

components of the “child-only” caseload are (1) families with a disabled parent receiving federal

Supplemental Security Income (SSI); (2) families with an ineligible, immigrant parent but with

eligible citizen children; and (3) families with children being cared for by a nonparent relative,

such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. Each of the three categories of families differs in their

characteristics from TANF cash assistance families with an adult recipient; there are also

differences in characteristics among families in the three major “child-only” categories.

 

TANF policies generally date back to the 1996 welfare law and the welfare reform debates of the

1980s and 1990s, and do not necessarily address the current composition of the cash assistance

caseload. The major performance measure used to evaluate TANF is the work participation rate, a

measure not relevant to TANF “child-only” families. Many of TANF’s child-only families are

affected by social policies other than TANF (i.e., federal disability, immigration, and child

protection policies). However, these families are also affected by TANF, and there are currently

no federal rules for assessing how TANF funds are used to improve their well-being. Options that

have been raised include requiring states to provide more information to the federal government

and public on benefits and services afforded to “child-only” families. Congress could also either

establish performance goals and measures, or, alternatively, require states to establish such goals

and measures for “child-only” families.

 

Contents

Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 1

Brief History of Cash Assistance ............................................................................................... 2

Trends in the Number of Families Receiving Cash Assistance ................................................. 3

Trends in Caseload Characteristics: FY1988 to FY2010 ................................................................. 4

TANF Families by Category ...................................................................................................... 7

Characteristics of TANF Families, By Family Category: FY2010.......................................... 10

Number of Children .......................................................................................................... 11

Age of Children ................................................................................................................. 12

Race and Ethnicity of Child Recipients ............................................................................ 12

Considerations ............................................................................................................................... 13

Non-TANF Policies Affecting “Non-Traditional” Cash Assistance Families ......................... 14

TANF Families with Employed Adults ............................................................................. 14

TANF “Child-Only“ Families ........................................................................................... 15

Coordination Between TANF and Other Programs Affecting TANF Cash

Assistance Families ........................................................................................................ 15

TANF Policies for “Nontraditional” Welfare Families? .......................................................... 16

 

Figures

Figure 1. Number of Families Receiving Cash Assistance: 1959-2012 .......................................... 4

Figure 2. Families Receiving Cash Assistance, by Category: Selected Years, FY1988 to FY2010 ..........9

Figure 3. Families Receiving Cash Assistance by Family Category: FY2010 .............................. 10

 

Tables

Table 1. Summary Characteristics of Cash Assistance Families: Selected Years FY1988 to FY2010 .................................. 5

Table 2. Families Receiving TANF Cash Assistance by Family Category and Number of Child Recipients: FY2010 .......................... 11

Table 3. Families Receiving TANF Cash Assistance by Family Category and Age of Youngest Child: FY2010 .......................... 12

Table 4. TANF Child Recipients: by Family Category and Race/Ethnicity: FY2010 ................... 13

Table A-1. Families Receiving Cash Assistance by Family Category: Selected Years, FY1988 to FY2010 ................................... 17

Table A-2. TANF Cash Assistance Caseload By Family Category and State: FY2010 ................ 18

Table A-3. Ratio of TANF Child Recipients to All Children and Poor Children by Race/Ethnicity, Selected Years ........................... 21

 

Appendixes

Appendix. ....................................................................................................................................... 17

 

Contacts

Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 21

Acknowledgments ......................................................................................................................... 21

 

 

________________________________________________________________________

This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 




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