NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Child-Only Welfare Cases are Increasing

August 14, 2002

Welfare officials say they are seeing a growing number of cases where children are the only beneficiaries.

  • In more than a third of welfare households, the only recipients of benefits are children -- up from 10 percent nationally since 1988.
  • That can be explained in part by the fact that as the number of adults on welfare declines, the proportion of children increases.
  • Nonetheless, in absolute numbers, children-only cases rose from 782,000 in 1998 to more than a million in 2000.
  • Some of the grants to children amount to no more than $68 per month.

One reason for the rise is that some of the same rules and practices that sharply reduced the regular welfare rolls are expanding the pool of children eligible for child-only grants.

Some are children born in the U.S. to immigrant parents -- either legal or illegal -- barred from welfare by the 1996 reforms.

In 54 percent of cases nationwide, the children live apart from their parents -- often with a grandmother.

Source: Nina Bernstein, "Child-Only Cases Grow in Welfare," New York Times, August 14, 2002.


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