Download & Other Tools
- Definition: Estimated percentage of children under age 18 living with grandparents who provide primary care for one or more grandchildren in the household.
- Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey. Accessed at http://factfinder2.census.gov (Jan. 2013).
- Footnote: Data are displayed for geographies with at least 10,000 people based on 2011 population estimates. The data are based on a survey of the population and are subject to both sampling and nonsampling error. LNE (Low Number Event) refers to estimates that have been suppressed because the confidence interval around the percentage was greater than 10 percentage points. N/A means that data are not available. Some regions listed among the cities under the "Choose Counties, Cities and School Districts" menu are Census Designated Places (CDPs), such as East Los Angeles; CDPs are communities within the unincorporated part of a county.
- Family Structure
- Households with and without Children, by City, School District and County (65,000 Residents or More)
- Family Structure for Children in Households, by City, School District and County (65,000 Residents or More)
- Children in the Care of Grandparents, by City, School District and County (65,000 Residents or More)
- Child Population
- Public School Enrollment
- Children in Rural and Urban Areas (California & U.S. Only)
- Total Population
- Family Income and Poverty
- Children in Poverty (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Children in Poverty (Regions of 20,000 Residents or More)
- Children in Poverty (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More)
- Children in Poverty - Supplemental Poverty Measure (State & U.S. Only)
- Children Living Above and Below the Poverty Level (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More), by Income Level
- Children Living Above and Below the Poverty Level (Regions of 20,000 Residents or More), by Income Level
- Children Living Above and Below the Poverty Level (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More), by Income Level
- Median Family Income (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Median Family Income (Regions of 20,000 Residents or More)
- Median Family Income (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More)
- Self-Sufficiency Standard, by Household Type
- Families Living Below the Self-Sufficiency Standard
- CalWORKs Recipients
- Children Living with One or More Foreign-Born Parent (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Children Living with One or More Foreign-Born Parent (Regions of 20,000 Residents or More)
- Children Living with One or More Foreign-Born Parent (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More)
- Foreign-Born Population (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More), by Age Group
- Foreign-Born Population (Regions of 20,000 Residents or More), by Age Group
- Foreign-Born Population (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More), by Age Group
- English Learners
- Teen Births
- Why This Topic Is Important
Child well being is influenced by the family environment and the presence of caring, stable adults. Family structure and the nature of the family relationships, in particular, are important factors in child development (1, 2). For example, single-parent families are more likely than two-parent families to have lower incomes and experience financial hardship (3). Financial hardship can affect families’ ability to provide the environment and experiences a child needs for optimal cognitive, emotional, and physical development (4, 5). In addition to adequate family income, positive child development is influenced by factors such as parental affection, responsiveness, and consistency, as well as high quality relationships between parents or significant adults (2). These factors are more critical than the family structure itself (6).
Over the past 30 years, the percentage of children living in households with two married parents has declined nationwide, while the percentage in families headed by a single parent or grandparents has increased (7, 8). Though it is not clear if the percentage of children living with same-sex partners has increased in recent decades (due to data limitations), research shows that children in these families are as well adjusted as children with heterosexual parents (2). Studies indicate that child development is not influenced by the gender or sexual orientation of parents.
For more information about family structure see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. ChildTrends. (2012). Family structure. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=family-structure
2. Lamb, M. E. (2012). Mothers, fathers, families, and circumstances: Factors affecting children’s adjustment. Applied Developmental Science, 16(2), 98-111.
3. Coontz, et al. (2002). Marriage, poverty, and public policy: A discussion paper from the Council on Contemporary Families. Prepared for the Fifth Annual CCF Conference. Retrieved from: http://www.contemporaryfamilies.org/economic-issues/povertypolicy.html
4. National Center for Children in Poverty. (2009). Ten important questions about children and economic hardship. Retrieved from: http://www.nccp.org/faq.html
5. Mosle, A, Emig, C., & Redd, Z. (2011). Two generations in poverty: Status and trends among parents and children in the United States, 2000-2010 (Child Trends Research Brief No. 2011-25). Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?publications=two-generations-in-poverty-status-and-trends-among-parents-and-children-in-the-united-states-2000-2010-2
6. Schor, E. (2003). Family Pediatrics: Report of the Task Force on the Family. Pediatrics, 111(6), Part 2:1539-158. Retrieved from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/111/Supplement_2/1541.abstract
7. Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. (2011). Family structure and children’s living arrangements. America’s Children: Key national indicators of well-being, 2011. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved from: http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/famsoc.asp
8. U.S. Census Bureau. (n.d.). Family table CH-7. Grandchildren living in the home of their grandparents: 1970 to present. Retrieved from: http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/children.html
- Measures of Family Structure on Kidsdata.org
On kidsdata.org, measures of family structure include: households with and without children under age 18; family structure for children, overall, and by race/ethnicity; and children in the care of grandparents.
These data are estimates based on the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS). Depending on the indicator, data may be available for:
Family structure estimates are for children living in households and exclude those in group quarters (e.g., student dormitories). A "female-headed household” is a household maintained by a female with related children present. The female head of household typically is the children’s mother but also may be their grandmother, aunt, older sibling, or another relative. The definition of "male-headed household" is comparable. The same-sex couple category combines both unmarried and married partners due to small sample sizes. "Other households” include youth living alone or with nonrelatives.
- Cities, school districts and counties with 65,000+ residents, as single-year estimates;
- Cities, school districts, and counties with 20,000+ residents, as 3-year estimates;
- Cities, school districts, and counties with 10,000+ residents, as 5-year estimates (however, for family structure by race/ethnicity, data are provided as 5-year estimates for regions of 50,000+ residents); and/or
- Legislative districts, as 5-year estimates.
- How Children Are Faring
In 2011, more than one-third of California households (37%) included children, similar to previous years. Among counties with 20,000 residents or more, Imperial, Kings, and Tulare had the highest percentages of households with children (48%), and San Francisco had the lowest (19%) in 2009-11.
About two-thirds (67%) of California children lived in households headed by married couples of the opposite sex in 2011; the remaining percentage lived in households headed by single women (19%), single men (5%), unmarried couples of the opposite sex (8%), and married or unmarried same-sex couples (0.3%). In addition, about 4% of California’s children lived in the care of grandparents in 2011. Family structure varies by race/ethnicity. In 2007-11, an estimated 11% of Asian/Pacific Islander children in California lived in households headed by single women, while the same was true for about 50% of African American children.
- Policy Implications
Family provides the essential safety net for children, and public policy can help support and reinforce that safety net for the good of the family, and for society at large. In California, about two-thirds of households with children are headed by married couples, while 24% live in households headed by a single parent (1). Children can thrive in any type of family structure. However, research shows that single-parent households tend to be less financially secure or stable than those with married parents (2, 3).
A small percentage of children are raised by other caregivers, such as grandparents, who often need information, financial and emotional support, and authority to nurture, feed, house, and educate the children in their care (4). Some children are raised in households headed by same-sex couples; while research shows that these children do as well as children of heterosexual couples, they can face discrimination (5, 6).
According to research and subject experts, policy options that could promote child well being in homes with a single parent, kinship caregiver, or same-sex parents include:
- Strengthening the social and financial safety net for single custodial parents through policies that support balancing work and caring for children, provide adequate cash assistance for low-income families in need, and effectively enforce child support obligations (2, 3, 8)
- Ensuring that kinship caregivers (such as grandparents) have the full range of support needed to provide for children in their care, enroll them in school, ensure that they receive regular medical care, and avoid placement in non-relative foster care (4)
- Eliminating legislation that discriminates against gay and lesbian populations, as anti-gay legislation and attitudes can negatively affect the mental health of gay and lesbian parents, which can affect the emotional and behavioral health of their children (6, 9)
- Developing and implementing responsible fatherhood programs that are comprehensive and address child support collection issues, paternal employment, relationship skills, parenting skills, and domestic violence concerns (2, 3, 7)
For more policy ideas and links to research and websites with related information, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
2. Waldfogel, J., et al. (2010). Fragile families and child well-being. Future of Children, 20(2), 87-112. Retrieved from: http://futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/docs/20_02_05.pdf
3. McLanahan, S., et al. (2010). The Future of Children Policy Brief: Strengthening fragile families. Princeton University and Brookings Institution. Retrieved from: http://futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/docs/20_02_PolicyBrief.pdf
4. Sakai, C., et al. (2011). Health outcomes and family services in kinship care: Analysis of a national sample of children in the child welfare system. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 165(2), 159-165. Retrieved from: http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=384260
5. Lamb, M. E. (2012). Mothers, fathers, families, and circumstances: Factors affecting children’s adjustment. Applied Developmental Science, 16(2), 98-111.
6. Pennings, G. (2011). Evaluating the welfare of the child in same-sex families. Human Reproduction, 26(7). Retrieved from: http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/7/1609.short
7. Knox, V., et al. (2009). Policies that strengthen fatherhood and family relationships: What do we know and what do we need to know? MDRC. Retrieved from: http://www.mdrc.org/publications/556/full.pdf
8. Cancian, M., et al. (2010). Promising antipoverty strategies for families. Urban Institute. Retrieved from:http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/412073_promising_antipoverty.pdf
9. Goldberg, A. E., et al. (2011). Stigma, social context, and mental health: Lesbian and gay couples across the transition to adoptive parenthood. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58(1), 139-150. Retrieved from: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/cou/58/1/139/
- Websites with Related Information
- Annie E. Casey Foundation: Responsible Fatherhood & Marriage
- California Kinship, California Department of Social Services Kinship Support Services Program
- Casey Family Programs
- Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
- Child Trends
- Journalism Center on Children and Families
- The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing
- U.S. Census Bureau: Families and Living Arrangements
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation: Family Structure
- Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law: Parenting Issues Studies
- Key Reports
- Adoption and Foster Care by Lesbian and Gay Parents in the United States, The Urban Institute & The Charles R. Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy
- Broken Immigration Policy: Broken Families, Urban Institute
- Family Structure and Children’s Health in the United States: Findings from the National Health Interview Survey, 2001-2007, Vital and Health Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics
- Fragile Families, The Future of Children
- Incarcerated Parents and Their Children: Trends 1991-2007, The Sentencing Project
- Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community, Williams Institute & UCLA School of Law
- Two Generations in Poverty: Status and Trends Among Parents and Children in the United States, 2000-2010, Child Trends
- Work and Family, The Future of Children
- County/Regional Reports
- Children's Report Card: Sacramento County Children's Coalition
- Kern County Report Card, Kern County Network for Children
- Solano County Children's Report Card, Children's Network