DataBank Indicator

Child Recipients of Welfare(AFDC/TANF)

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The number of children receiving welfare benefits in 2014 was less than one-third of what it was in 1996, a year that saw major reforms to the welfare system.

Importance

In 1996, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program succeeded the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program (AFDC) program, as part of federal welfare reform. Among other changes, welfare is no longer an entitlement, and adult recipients in most cases are required to work at least part-time to continue receiving benefits. Additionally, federal funds can be used to provide adult recipients with benefits for up to five years, although some states set a shorter cap.[1] States set TANF benefit levels, and they vary widely from state to state.  Additional information on current state policies is available from the Urban Institute.

In 2013, children made up three-quarters of TANF recipients.[2]  Of families receiving TANF, half had one child (50 percent), and a bit more than one-quarter (28 percent) had two children.[3] In many cases, the child is the only beneficiary in the household, because the parent is ineligible or the child does not live with a parent; these cases accounted for 50 percent of all TANF cases in the 2013 fiscal year.[4] As of fiscal year 2013, of adult TANF recipients, five percent were younger than 20, and another 29 percent between 20 and 24.[5]

The average monthly cash payment to a family with one child was $378 per month,[6] but most TANF families receive other, non-cash, assistance. In the 2011 fiscal year, 97 percent of TANF families received medical assistance, and 83 percent received SNAP (food stamps), 12 percent had subsidized housing, and eight percent had subsidized childcare.[7]

In rigorous studies of TANF’s effects on children, results have been mixed. One experimental evaluation focusing on children who received TANF while they were in preschool found no longitudinal impacts at middle school.[8] In contrast, positive impacts of enhanced welfare-to-work programs in the area of school achievement have been found for younger children.[9]

Such impacts have been found to occur when programs improve a family’s economic status or a mother’s education. For example, the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training Program (JOBS) had positive impacts on cognitive development and academic achievement, compared with results among recipients of AFDC. This program provided access to work supports not covered by AFDC, such as job training and education, or rapid job placement for those receiving welfare.

In contrast, a recent study found mothers’ TANF receipt associated with negative effects on children’s early cognitive development, and identified maternal stress as a possible mediator, raising concerns about the potential burdens imposed by participation in the program.[10] In another study, negative effects on school engagement and externalizing behavior were evident only in families where the head-of-household was deemed “hard-to-employ” due to drug use, low education or work experience, or depression.[11]

School-achievement impacts for adolescents, from both enhanced and traditional welfare policies, have mostly been negative.[12]

Trends

50_fig150_fig2After rising from 6.1 million in 1970 to 9.5 million in 1993, the number of children receiving AFDC/TANF payments fell to 2.9 million in 2008.(Figure 1)Similarly, the percentage of all children receiving AFDC/TANF steadily decreased from 14 percent in 1993 to four percent in 2008. Among children living in families below the poverty threshold, the proportion receiving AFDC/TANF decreased from 62 percent in 1995 to 21 percent in 2008.[13] (Figure 2) Following the recession that began in late 2007, the number of children receiving TANF payments rose to 3.3 million in 2010 and 2011, then fell to 2.6 million in 2014 (preliminary estimates), the lowest number in recent recordkeeping. (Figure 1)  The percentage of children receiving benefits also increased slightly, to five percent in 2010, before decreasing to four percent in 2014. However, as a proportion of all children living in poverty, the percentage receiving TANF has declined over this period; in 2014, the proportion was 17 percent. (Figure 2)

Differences by Age

50_fig3Younger children are more likely to be recipients of TANF benefits. In fiscal year 2013, 14 percent of children receiving TANF funds were under age two, and another 29 percent were between two and five. Only eight percent were between the ages of 16 and 19. A disproportionate share of TANF recipients, relative to the general child population, are under six. (Figure 3)

 

Differences by Race/Hispanic Origin[14]

50_fig4In fiscal year 2013, approximately four in ten (39 percent) child TANF recipients were Hispanic, and three in ten (31 percent) were black. Hispanic children were 37 percent of children in poverty, while black children were 26 percent of children in poverty. Whites were 30 percent of children in poverty, and 25 percent of child TANF recipients. (Figure 4)

 

 

State and Local Estimates

State estimates are available from the Department
of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families,
Office of Family Support.

International Estimates

None available.

National Goals

None.

Related Indicators

Definition

In August 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (Public Law 104-193) repealed the Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program and created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in its place. The purposes of TANF are to: (1) provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for either in their own homes or in the homes of relatives; (2) end welfare dependence by promoting preparation for jobs, work, and marriage; (3) prevent and reduce non-marital pregnancies; and (4) encourage the formation and preservation of two-parent families.[15]
Figures for this report are based on state-reported administrative data on participants in the program who received cash grants. Yearly totals are based on the average monthly number of participants.

Data Sources

Total caseload data for 2000-2014: TANF Caseload Data, Administration for Children & Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/programs/tanf/data-reports.

Other data for FY 2013: Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. (2015). Characteristics and Financial Circumstances of TANF Recipients, Fiscal Year 2013: Appendix. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/characteristics-and-financial-circumstances-of-tanf-recipients-fiscal-year-2013.

Other data for FY 2012: Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. (2012). Characteristics and Financial Circumstances of TANF Recipients, Fiscal Year 2012: Appendix. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/characteristics-and-financial-circumstances-appendix-fy2012.

Other data for FY 2011: Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. (2013). Characteristics and Financial Circumstances of TANF Recipients, Fiscal Year 2011: Appendix. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/characteristics-financial-circumstances-appendix-fy2011.

Other data for FY 2010: Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. (2012). X. characteristics and financial circumstances of TANF recipients: Appendix. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://archive.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/character/index.html.

Data for FY 2007-2009: Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Ninth report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annualreport9/ar9index.htm.

Data for FY 2004-2006: Department of Health and Human Services. (2009). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Eighth annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annualreport8/ar8index.htm.

Data for FY 2003: Department of Health and Human Services. (2006). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Seventh annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annualreport7/ar7index.htm

Data for FY 2002: Department of Health and Human Services. (2004). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Sixth annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annualreport6/ar6index.htm.

Data for FY 2001: Department of Health and Human Services. (2003). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Fifth annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annualreport5/index.htm.

Data for FY 2000: Department of Health and Human Services. (2002). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Fourth annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/ar2001/indexar.htm.

Data for FY 1999: Department of Health and Human Services. (2000). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Third annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annual3/annual3.pdf.

Data for FY 1998: Department of Health and Human Services. (1999). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Second annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annual2/tan19995.pdf.

All other data: Indicators of Welfare Dependence Annual Report to the Congress 2008. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Table TANF2. Available at: http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/indicators08/apa.shtml

Raw Data Source

Caseload numbers are administrative data compiled
by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for
Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance.

Poverty data are from the Current Population
Survey: http://www.bls.gov/cps/home.htm

 

Appendix 1 – Child Recipients of AFDC/TANF: Selected Years 1970-2014

1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Child Recipients in the
States and DC (in thousands)
6,104 7,928 7,295 7,073 7,781 9,013 8,355 7,0773 5,781 4,836 4,260 3987
Child Recipients as a
Percentage of Total Child Population1
8.7 11.8 11.5 11.3 12.1 13.0 11.9 10.0 8.1 6.7 5.9 5.5
Child Recipients as a
Percentage of Children in Poverty2
58.5 71.4 63.2 54.4 57.9 61.5 57.8 50.1 42.9 39.4 36.8 34.0
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009* 2010* 2011* 2012* 2013* 2014*
Child Recipients in the
States and DC (in thousands)
3,790 3,709 3,593 3,407 3,185 3,003 2,922 3,156 3,307 3,280 3,045 2,837 2,601
Child Recipients as a
Percentage of Total Child Population1
5.2 5.1 4.9 4.6 4.3 4.0 3.9 4.2 4.5 4.4 4.1 3.9 3.5
Child Recipients as a
Percentage of Children in Poverty2
31.2 28.8 27.6 26.4 24.8 22.5 20.8 20.4 20.3 20.3 18.9 19.4 16.7
*2012-2014 enrollment data are preliminary estimates.

1Population numbers used as denominators are resident population. See Current Population Reports, Series P25-1106.

2For poverty population data see Current Population Reports, Series P60-231 (available online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html). Because children living with relatives other than their parents are eligible for benefits in most states regardless of household poverty level, some child recipients are not in poverty.

Sources: 2000-2014 data: TANF Caseload Data, Administration for Children & Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/index.htm. All other data: Indicators of Welfare Dependence Annual Report to the Congress 2008. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Table TANF2. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/programs/tanf/data-reports

 

Appendix 2 – Percentage and Number of Child Recipients of TANF, by Age and Race/Hispanic Origin: FY 1998-20131

Percentage 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Age
0-1 12.3 12.2 13.1 13.4 14.6 14.6 14.7 14.5 14.5 15.4 16.0 16.1 16.0 15.7 15.1 14.3
2 to 5 27.5 26.0 25.6 24.9 25.1 25.4 25.7 25.0 25.5 25.3 25.5 26.9 28.0 28.9 28.8 28.7
6 to 11 35.4 35.8 36.2 35.8 34.4 33.4 32.2 31.8 31.1 30.5 30.4 29.9 30.1 30.3 30.9 23.2
12 to 15 16.3 16.7 17.4 18.4 18.3 18.8 19.4 19.9 19.7 19.2 18.5 17.9 16.7 16.6 16.8 16.4
16 to 19 7.4 7.8 7.6 7.5 7.6 7.7 8.0 8.8 9.2 9.5 9.5 9.2 9.2 8.5 8.4 8.4
Race/Hispanic Origin2
Hispanic 23.6 26.0 26.8 27.8 27.4 27.5 27.1 28.6 29.2 30.1 32.5 33.5 34.7 35.2 36.6 38.5
White 28.5 25.8 26.8 25.6 26.8 27.0 27.8 27.7 28.8 27.6 26.2 26.1 27.1 25.5 25.3 25.5
Black 40.6 39.5 40.1 40.8 39.8 39.1 38.6 37.5 36.4 36.2 34.1 33.1 31.4 32.2 30.9 30.5
Asian 4.2 4.6 2.8 2.7 2.7 2.5 2.1 2.5 2.1 2.3 2.6 2.5 2.0 2.0 2.1 1.8
Native American 1.5 1.7 1.6 1.2 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.0 1.0 1.1 1.0
Number
(in thousands)
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Total 6,273 5,319 4,385 4,055 3,835 3,737 3,611 3,457 3,204 3,005 2,911 3,068 3,280 3,317 3,105 2,914
Age
0-1 772 649 574 543 560 546 531 501 465 463 466 494 525 521 469 417
2 to 5 1,725 1,383 1,122 1,010 963 949 928 864 817 760 742 825 918 959 894 836
6 to 11 2,221 1,904 1,587 1,452 1,319 1,248 1,163 1,099 996 917 885 917 987 1,005 959 938
12 to 15 1,022 888 763 746 702 703 701 688 631 577 539 549 548 551 522 478
16 to 19 464 415 333 304 291 288 289 304 295 285 277 282 302 282 261 245
Race/Hispanic Origin2
Hispanic 1,480 1,383 1,175 1,127 1,051 1,028 979 989 935 905 946 1,028 1,138 1,167 1,136 1,122
White 1,788 1,372 1,175 1,038 1,028 1,009 1,004 958 923 829 763 801 889 846 786 743
Black 2,547 2,101 1,758 1,654 1,526 1,461 1,394 1,297 1,166 1,088 993 1,015 1,030 1,068 959 889
Asian 263 245 123 109 104 93 76 86 67 69 76 77 66 66 65 52
Native American 94 90 70 49 54 52 51 45 42 36 35 37 33 33 34 29
1The fiscal year begins in October of the previous year.

2Hispanics may be any race. Totals and percentages for whites and blacks do not include Hispanics.

Sources: Data for 1998: Department of Health and Human Services. (1999). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Second annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annual2/tan19995.pdf. Data for 1999: Department of Health and Human Services. (2000). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Third annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annual3/annual3.pdf. Data for 2000: Department of Health and Human Services. (2002). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Fourth annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/ar2001/indexar.htm. Data for 2001: Department of Health and Human Services. (2003). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Fifth annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annualreport5/index.htm. Data for 2002: Department of Health and Human Services. (2004). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Sixth annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annualreport6/ar6index.htm. Data for 2003: Department of Health and Human Services. (2006). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Seventh annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annualreport7/ar7index.htm. Data for 2004-2006: Department of Health and Human Services. (2009). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Eighth annual report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annualreport8/ar8index.htm. Data for 2007-2009: Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Ninth report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/annualreport9/ar9index.htm. Data for FY 2010: Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. (2012). X. characteristics and financial circumstances of TANF recipients: Appendix. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://archive.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/character/index.html. Data for FY 2011: Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. (2013). Characteristics and Financial Circumstances of TANF Recipients, Fiscal Year 2011: Appendix. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/characteristics-financial-circumstances-appendix-fy2011. Data for FY 2012: Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. (2014). Characteristics and Financial Circumstances of TANF Recipients, Fiscal Year 2012: Appendix. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/characteristics-and-financial-circumstances-appendix-fy2012. Data for FY 2013: Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. (2015). Characteristics and Financial Circumstances of TANF Recipients, Fiscal Year 2013: Appendix. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/characteristics-and-financial-circumstances-of-tanf-recipients-fiscal-year-2013.

 

 

Endnotes


[1]Zedlewski, S. R. (2012). Welfare reform: What have
we learned in fifteen years?
Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.
Available at:http://www.urban.org/publications/412539.html

[2]Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. (2014). Characteristics and financial circumstances of TANF recipients, fiscal year 2012. Author. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/characteristics-and-financial-circumstances-appendix-fy2012. Tables 18 and 31

[3]Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. (2015). Op. cit. Table 4

[4]Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. (2015). Op. cit. Table 3

[5]Lower-Basch, E. (2015). Young adults and TANF: Rethinking work activities. CLASP. Retrieved from http://www.clasp.org/resources-and-publications/publication-1/Young-Adults-and-TANF.pdf

[6]Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. (2015). Op. cit. Table 37

[7]Department of Health and Human Services. (2013). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program: Tenth report to Congress. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/tenth-report-to-congress. Table 10:13.

[8]McGroder, S. M., Zaslow, M. J., Moore, K. A., & Brooks, J. L. (2006). Mandatory welfare-to-work programs and preschool-age children: Do impacts persist into middle childhood? In A. C. Huston & M. N. Ripke (Eds.), Middle childhood: Contexts of development. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.pdf.

[9]Morris, P. A., Duncan, G. J., & Clark-Kauffman, E. (2004). Morris, P. A., Duncan, G. J., & Clark-Kauffman, E. (2004). Child well-being in an era of welfare reform: The sensitivity of transitions in development to policy change [Electronic Version] from http://www.northwestern.edu/ipr/publications/papers/2004/duncan/3WelfarePolicyChild.pdf.

[10]Heflin, C. M. and Acevedo, S. K. (2011). Non-income effects of welfare receipt on early childhood cognitive scores. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 634-643.

[11]Yoshikawa, H., Magnuson, K. A., Bos, J. M., Hsueh, J. (2003). Effects of earnings-supplement policies on adult economic and middle-childhood outcomes differ for the “hardest to employ”. Child Development, 74(5); 1500-1521.

[12]Morris, P. A., Duncan, G. J., & Clark-Kauffman, E. (2004). Op cit.

[13]Some states may set family income thresholds for eligibility for TANF non-cash benefits that exceed the federal poverty level, and eligibility for cash benefits in child-only cases are not determined by family income when the child is living with relatives (the case in half of child-only cases). Thus, it may be that not all children receiving TANF are in poverty.

[14]Hispanics may be any race. Estimates for whites and blacks in this report do not include Hispanics.

[15]U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means. (2004). Green Book: Background material and data on the programs within the jurisdiction of the committee on ways and means [Electronic Version] from http://www.gpoaccess.gov/wmprints/green/2004.html.

 

Suggested Citation:

Child Trends Databank. (2015). Child recipients of welfare(AFDC/TANF). Available at: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=child-recipients-of-welfareafdctanf

 

Last updated: December 2015

 


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