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The AFDC Conundrum: A New Look at an Old Institution

George W. Liebmann
Social Work
Vol. 38, No. 1 (January 1993), pp. 36-43
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23716879
Page Count: 8
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The AFDC Conundrum: A New Look at an Old Institution
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Abstract

In recent years there has been an explosion in the number of out-of-wedlock births. The dimensions of the phenomenon within the African American population have long been remarked, but the threefold increase since 1970 in births to unwed white mothers has been less commented on. Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) has been blamed for the magnitude of the problem among low-income families. This article discusses the relation of AFDC to problems of unwed motherhood and demonstrates that the worst fears of the critics of the mothers' pension laws, the precursors of AFDC, have been realized. The article also shows that the extension of AFDC to unwed mothers was an unintended development and that its effect has been the demise of residential homes for unwed mothers. The 1988 amendments to AFDC allow states to make assistance conditional, in appropriate cases, on the mother's residing in the home of her parents or in a residential institution. The article urges that this opportunity be grasped and that renewed attention be given to public support of maternity homes as means of socializing young mothers and deterring repeated out-of-wedlock births.

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