Change Indicator

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 25 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.
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 birth to 5 with TANF steadily declined from 9,895 to 2,545 or down 74%.  This number increased to 2,699 in December 2020, and has increased in 2021,2022 & 2023 as well. The current number of 3,060 children as of December 2023 under age 6 with TANF is the highest since 2015, but still well below the 2010 number of nearly 10,000 children under age 6 with TANF.

On a county level, in 2023, the use of TANF among Maine's youngest children varied between a high of 7.1% in Androscoggin County and 6.2% in Piscataquis County to a low of 1.7% in Hancock County and 2.5% in Lincoln County and 2.7% in Sagadahoc County.
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Definition and Source



The number and percent of children ages birth to 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 birth to 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.


Last Updated

January 2024