Temporary Assistance to Needy Families for children birth to age 5 in Maine

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Why This Indicator Matters

TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is designed to provide a temporary safety net to poor families. In the past 20 years there have been sweeping changes on both the federal and state level to eligibility. As a result, TANF reaches fewer and fewer families with financial need.
This means that many families lack the income to meet their most basic needs for food & shelter.
It is true that in times that when the economy is good, fewer families will need this basic income support of TANF. Still. most of the reason for the declines in the use of TANF both in this state and nationally, are due to changes in eligibility, including time limits and work requirements.

What the data shows
From 2010 to 2019, the number and percent of children ages 0 -5 with TANF declined from 9,895 to 2,545 or down 74%.   In December of the pandemic year of 2020, the number of children ages 5 & under with TANF increased by 6% to 2,699 and that was close to the 2018 number. By December 2021, the number had fallen back to 2,411 and was tied for the lowest rate since at least 2010 at 3.1%.

On a county level, in 2021, the use of TANF among Maine's youngest children varied between a high of 5.3% in Androscoggin County and 5.4% in Aroostook County to a low of 1.4% in Lincoln County and 1.5% in Hancock County.
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Data Provided By

Definitions: The number and percent of children ages 0-5 who were receiving Temporary Aid to Needy Families in December of each calendar year. Note: State totals include children whose county is unknown, who are not Maine residents or are out of state.The numerator is the number of children ages 0 -5 receiving TANF and the denominator is the estimated population of children under age 6 based on yearly estimates from the Maine Office of Vital Statistics.

Data Source: Maine DHHS, Office of Family Independence.

Footnotes: Data for 2003 and later represent enrollments in December of those years.
Updated: April 2022