Lifetime limits in Arizona, child neglect during the Great Recession, short lifetime limits, TANF program and child neglect, loss of income and child neglect, substantiated neglect cases


The Great Recession that officially began in December 2007 nationally resulted in a loss of income on the part of many families with children who in turn, relied on a variety of safety nets, including cash assistance from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Loss of income has been recognized as a major risk factor of child maltreatment, in particular child neglect. During its 2007 recession, Arizona shortened its TANF lifetime limits substantially which resulted in transfer income losses for many families with children on TANF. Using time-series analysis, the present study determines the relative impact of TANF’s shorter than 60-month time limits on the Arizona’s child neglect caseload. This paper shows that there is a strong inverse relationship between child neglect and the decrease in the number of families receiving cash assistance from TANF. Key findings reveal that all else constant, under the presence of 36-month time limit there was an increase of 190 more children substantiated for neglect in the state of Arizona (p < .001). The corresponding figure under the 24 month life time limit was 461 cases per month (p < .001). This study reminds us that policies in one program should not be implemented in a vacuum but rather that their consequences for children and families in related programs need to be closely analyzed.

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