HHS has released a new database report on some of the basic eligibility requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance program. The report and tables are based on information from the Welfare Rules Database (WRD) which is a publicly available database.

TANF, particularly in the use of “child-only” grants, plays a significant role in child welfare with many of these families proving kinship care. Child-only families under TANF are families where there is an adult head of the household but they are not counted in calculating the monthly benefit. Generally there are three different kinds of child-only families: SSI, whereby an adult is present but receiving Supplemental Insurance Income, immigrant families, whereby the immigrant parent is disqualified (regardless of legal status), and relative care, whereby a grandparent or other relative is caring for the child. According to the new report all but 4 states pay the same benefit for a child-only family (with one child) for the SSI, immigrant and relative care families. There has been other research that suggests states provide higher benefits for a child-only in a kin family.

CWLA highlighted some of the TANF-Kinship issues in the just release policy discussion draft, The Intersection Between Kinship Care and TANF: Policy Questions and Proposals.

This report indicates that only Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin provide different benefits according to kinship status. The report also indicates that 21 states will provide a grant to a family headed up by a non-relative caretaker with Michigan and Missouri requiring a guardianship for these unrelated heads of the household.

The report is authored by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) and the Urban Institute and is based on policies as of July 2013. The Databook is divided into five groups of tables: initial eligibility in 2013; benefits in 2013; requirements in 2013; ongoing eligibility in 2013; and policies across time, 1996–2013. Each chapter begins with an overview of the policies, followed by details relating to specific tables.