The Temporary Aid to Needy Families program (TANF) was designed to help lower income families with minor children with cash assistance, particularly while parents are seeking employment. However, states are allowed to spend TANF funds for a variety of other activities (for example, administrative costs, child care and pre-K programs, child welfare services, and work support activities) in addition to directly supporting families. TANF’s reach has declined over the years to the point where, in 2019, 23 of every 100 families living in poverty received any TANF benefits, with access being especially challenging for Black families.
The numerator for this indicator is the number of TANF-receiving families whose youngest child was younger than three in fiscal year 2019 (October 2018-September 2019). The denominator is the number of families whose youngest child is younger than three and have incomes below the 100% of the federal poverty level, based on estimates from the 2018 – 2020 Current Population Survey (Annual Social and Economic Supplement), which spans from March 2017- February 2020. For the State of Babies Yearbook: 2022, we combine three years of data for the denominator in order to improve indicator reliability. This should be considered an improved estimate and not a new estimate that can be compared directly to the 2021, 2020, or 2019 yearbook estimates. Washington, DC and Colorado do not have estimates this year due to the errors in their reported TANF data.
Floyd, I., & Meyer, L. (2020). Cash assistance should reach millions more families to lessen hardship. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. https://www.cbpp.org/research/family-income-support/cash-assistance-should-reach-millions-more-families-to-lessen
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Office of Family Assistance. (2020). Characteristics and financial circumstances of TANF recipients, fiscal year 2019. [Tables]. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ofa/data/characteristics-and-financial-circumstances-tanf-recipients-fiscal-year-2019
Flood, S., King, M., Rodgers, R., Ruggles, S., Warren, J.R. & Westberry, M. (2021). Current Population Survey. (IPUMS, Current Population Survey: Version 9.0) [Dataset]. IPUMS. https://doi.org/10.18128/D030.V9.0