Search Penny Hill Press

Friday, August 30, 2013

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

Gene Falk
Specialist in Social Policy

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 TANFs 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. 

Date of Report: August 21, 2013
Number of Pages: 25
Order Number: R42953
Price: $29.95

To Order:

R42953.pdf   to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART


Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

The Affordable Care Act and Small Business: Economic Issues

Sean Lowry
Analyst in Public Finance

Jane G. Gravelle
Senior Specialist in Economic Policy

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148 and P.L. 111-152) contains
several provisions to encourage employer-sponsored health coverage, particularly among small
businesses. The provisions that most directly relate to small businesses are (1) an employer
penalty for not providing health insurance, (2) a tax credit to increase the affordability of health
care for the smallest firms, and (3) small business health insurance exchanges designed to
increase plan options and lower plan costs.

Several events have altered ACA’s implementation since its enactment in 2010. Most notably, the
Obama administration delayed the implementation of the employer penalty and part of the small
business health exchanges from 2014 to 2015 to allow for more time for developing these
provisions and allowing firms to come into compliance. These delays have added to uncertainty
over the potential effects of ACA on small businesses.

First, this report explains how employer-sponsored insurance can be used to address concerns
about health insurance coverage and cost. Second, it summarizes the three ACA provisions most
relevant to small businesses, listed above. Next, it analyzes these provisions for their potential
effects on small businesses. Last, this report presents several approaches that could address some
concerns associated with these provisions (particularly the employer penalty).

According to analysis of the most recent employer size and insurance coverage data, ACA’s
employer penalty is structured so that it could exempt approximately 96.3% of employer firms
simply because they would be too small, and thus fall below the employer penalty threshold of 50
full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. These exempt firms account for approximately 28.1% of
all workers. After accounting for firms that already provide insurance, less than 1% of employer
firms could be subject to the employer penalty. Although 71.9% of all employees work for firms
that are large enough to be potentially subject to the penalty, only about 1.7% of employees work
in firms that do not already offer health insurance.

Less than 4% of small businesses that could have been eligible for the small business health care
tax credit in 2010 actually claimed it. According to a report by the Government Accountability
Office (GAO), many business owners felt that (1) the credit was too small of an incentive to
begin offering insurance; (2) even if these small employers offered health insurance, some
employees declined coverage because they felt that they cannot afford their share of the premium;
and (3) the rules were too complex. President Obama has proposed simplifying and expanding the

Small business health exchanges could help to reduce some barriers to accessing relatively
affordable health coverage in the small-group market. By pooling risk among multiple businesses
and reducing administrative costs, average insurance costs could reduce costs for these firms. On
the other hand, firms with relatively healthier employees could see a rise in insurance costs.

Date of Report: August 15, 2013
Number of Pages: 26
Order Number: R43181
Price: $29.95

To Order:

R43181.pdf   to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART


Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.