Between two systems: Children in TANF child-only cases with relative caregivers
The TANF program provides financial assistance to more than 500,000 children in relative care through child-only TANF grants, yet little information exists to describe this population. This study explored the service needs and well-being of children in TANF child-only cases with relative caregivers, using secondary analysis of national survey data and case studies in five states. Secondary analyses suggested that these children compare favorably to children in kinship and foster care on many measures of well-being, but some indications of behavioral and mental health problems were seen. Case studies suggest that many children in TANF child-only cases with relative caregivers have extensive service needs. Taken together, these findings suggest advantages of relative caregiver arrangements for children in TANF child-only cases, as well as cause for concern. Relative care is generally believed to be preferable to foster care with nonrelatives when children cannot remain with parents. However, children often experience substantial difficulties as a result of their previous experiences and separation from parents, and the TANF system lacks the necessary resources to respond to them.