Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Aid to Families with Dependent Children
From 1935 to 1996, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was the major government-funded means-tested public assistance program for low-income children and their caretakers. Its antecedents were states' mothers pension programs, which reflected the child-centered, “maternalist” philosophy of the Progressive Era. Originally a relatively minor component of the Social Security Act targeted at poor widows and their children, AFDC was a federal-state cost-sharing partnership. States retained the authority to determine eligibility requirements and benefit levels and to administer the program. However, the program lacked specific safeguards against racial discrimination, particularly in determination of eligibility. It was not controversial until the size and racial composition of caseloads began to ...