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More Families with Children Receive TANF During 2009 Recession, Census Bureau Reports

     The participation rate for families with children in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), a federal welfare program, increased from 3.8 percent in 2006 to 4.8 percent in 2009, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report.

     Based on the Survey of Income and Program Participation, the report, Comparing Program Participation of TANF and non-TANF Families Before and During a Time of Recession, examines whether participation in TANF and other programs — such as Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (known as WIC) and Medicaid — increased and employment decreased as a result of the economic recession. The report looks exclusively at families with children under age 18 in 2006 and 2009.

     TANF replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children in 1997, significantly altering the nation's welfare program.

     “The report suggests that the recent economic recession impacted American families with children and that the impact was not just limited to TANF families or poor families,” said report author Shelley K. Irving, a demographer in the Census Bureau's Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division. “Married-couple families, who have the lowest overall rates of TANF participation, saw an increase in their participation rate from 2006 to 2009.”

    Other highlights:

  • There was no significant change in the TANF participation rates of male-maintained and female-maintained families, nor an increase in the TANF participation rate of poor families.
  • Children living in TANF and non-TANF families were more likely to have an unemployed parent in the past 12 months in 2009 than in 2006. From 2006 to 2009, the percentage of families with no unemployment in the past 12 months fell from 66.9 percent to 59.6 percent for TANF families, from 78.1 percent to 66.5 percent for poor non-TANF families and from 95.1 percent to 91.4 percent for other non-TANF families. (See Figure 1.)
  • From 2006 to 2009, participation in employment and job skills programs increased for TANF and non-TANF families. For example, TANF families were the most likely to be engaged in programs to help find work, and their participation rate increased from 11.5 percent in 2006 to 25.0 percent in 2009. (See Figure 2.)
  • Non-TANF families were more likely to receive energy assistance, food stamps and clothing assistance in 2009 than in 2006.
The data in the report were collected from October 2005 to September 2006 in the Survey of Income and Program Participation and from September 2008 to August 2009. As in all surveys, these data are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. For further, information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates, go to <>.
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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | | Last Revised: September 09, 2014