Change Indicator

Children with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families in Maine

Children with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families

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Note: Non-consecutive years appear adjacent in the trend line
because one or more years have been deselected.

Why This Indicator Matters

TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is designed to provide a temporary safety net to families living in extreme poverty. 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 TANF use 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 2020, the number of children with TANF declined from 24,916 to 6,692 or down 73%. During the pandemic of 2020, however, the number rose for the first time in ten years to 7,217 families. By December 2021, these numbers had fallen again to 6,670. However, December 2022 saw another increase, to 7,625 children receiving TANF, and it rose even further in 2023 to 8,551, the highest number since 2015. Even so, that is only 3.4% of all children in Maine in 2023 and far lower than the nearly 25,00 children with TANF in 2010.

On a county level, in 2023, the use of TANF among Maine's children varied between a high of 6.3% in Androscoggin and 4.9% in Piscataquis to a low of 1.4% in Hancock and 1.9% in Sagadahoc.
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Definition and Source



The number/percent of children birth to age 17 who were receiving Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) during the time period specified for each year in the notes. State total includes children whose county of residence is unknown. The numerator is the number of children receiving TANF and the denominator is the estimated number of children birth to ages 17 in the county based on most recent estimates from the Maine Office of Vital Statistics.


 Data for 2003 through 2023 represent enrollments in December of those years.

Last Updated

January 2024