Young children's internalizing and externalizing behaviors after mothers exit welfare: Comparisons with children of non-welfare mothers

Publication Year


Journal Article
Although not part of its stated aims, current welfare legislation is assumed to benefit children through increased parental employment and self-sufficiency. Research findings on the extent to which parental welfare participation improves child well-being are inconclusive. This study investigates the behavioral outcomes of young children whose mothers have received TANF using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 2169). Controlling for maternal demographic characteristics, current financial status, and health risks, we found that the difference between children's externalizing behaviors in families of former TANF recipients relative to children of mothers who had never been on welfare decreased the longer mothers had been off welfare. However, overall, externalizing behaviors were significantly higher among children of former TANF recipients relative to children whose mothers had never received welfare. The findings suggest that ensuring healthy development for children requires long-term supports to help mothers as they transition off welfare.
Children and Youth Services Review