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KWIC Indicator Narrative

Children and Youth Receiving Public Assistance

Data Provider: NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance


Related Indicators:

  • Children Receiving Public Assistance 0-17 yrs [view data]

Life Area:

Economic Security


Public assistance (PA) programs provide cash aid to meet the basic support needs of individuals and families. To be eligible for PA a family's countable income and resources must fall below certain limits. Families receive the difference between countable income and a standard of need based primarily on their family size and the housing and fuel costs for their district. Districts are New York City and each of the Rest of State counties.

The indicator shows the number and percent of children who received public assistance in New York State at the end of the respective year. Children were counted as receiving public assistance at the end of the year if they received aid under the State’s Family Assistance (FA) program or the State’s Safety Net (SN) program. A predominantly federally-funded program, FA is the state's primary public assistance program for families with children. SN, a state and district funded general assistance program, provides public assistance for single adults, childless couples and families with children who are not eligible for aid under FA, mostly because they have exceeded the 60-month limit on federal assistance.


The number and percent of children receiving public assistance measures the extent to which New York State children are dependent on government aid to meet their basic economic needs.


Prior to New York transitioning to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in December 1996 and the creation of the FA and SN programs in 1997, children were counted as receiving public assistance if they received aid under either the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program or the Home Relief (HR) program.


  • At the end of 2021, 209,545 children were on public assistance, or 5.0 percent of children in the State. The percent of children that received public assistance in New York State decreased by 1.8 percentage points between 2015 and 2021. In absolute terms, the number of children on assistance decreased by 78,859.
  • The Statewide rate is highly influenced by New York City, where the rate where 74.1 percent of the State’s children on PA reside (as compared to 43.2% of all children). In NYC, the percent of children who were part of the public assistance cases was 8.5 percent compared to 2.3 percent in all other districts. From 2015 to 2021, New York City’s rate fell 1.0 percentage points, while the rate for the remainder of the State fell 2.5 percentage points.
  • In 2021, the percent of children receiving public assistance outside New York City varied widely by district, from a high of 6.6 percent in Chautauqua to a low of 0.3 percent in Putnam.

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