The term “welfare” has long been identified with the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. While the AFDC program was an important component of the safety net for low-income families with children, there was a near universal consensus that the program contained serious flaws. In August 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) was enacted. This bill replaced the Federal statute that governed the AFDC program with a block grant that states can use to provide cash and services to low-income families with children, largely free of federal requirements on state program rules. The purpose of this report is to provide information on the AFDC program as it existed under prior law.
This volume includes an historical overview of the program and statistical information on program characteristics, thus providing a snapshot of the AFDC program as it existed prior to enactment of PRWORA.
Each section below is a separate file in Adobe Acrobat format, also known as "PDF" format. You will need a special "plug-in" for your browser to view these files. If you do not have the plug-in, you should obtain the Adobe Acrobat Reader.
- A Brief History of the AFDC Program: briefly traces the historical origins and evolution of the program over the past sixty years. (The remaining sections provide detailed national and state data since the mid-1960s.) (PDF file, 28k)
- Trends in the AFDC Caseload Since 1962: traces the trends in the caseload for the basic AFDC program and the Unemployed Parent component. (PDF file, 242k)
- Family and Household Characteristics: provides some descriptive statistics regarding the family and household characteristics. (PDF file, 93k)
- Federal and State Expenditures for AFDC: examines the level of Federal and State spending on the program. (PDF file, 130k)
- Eligility, Benefits, and Disposable Income: discusses the eligibility thresholds and the AFDC benefit levels. (PDF file, 299k)
- Welfare Spell Dynamics: reviews the research on the length of stays on AFDC and the factors associated with entering and leaving the program. (PDF file, 78k)
- Appendix: The Food Stamp Program: describes the Food Stamp Program and provides data from the Food Stamp Quality Control System that are relevant to describing the characteristics of the AFDC caseload up to the end of 1996. (PDF file, 176k)
- List of Tables and Figures: detailed list of all the tables and figures by chapter.
Several people have been involved in collecting and organizing the information presented in this report. Richard Silva inherited the project from Steve Bartolomei-Hill who did much of the early work before he left the Department to accept a position elsewhere. Gil Crouse collected the information and created all the tables with the exception of those in Part 6. Barrett Graf wrote Part 6 “Welfare Spell Dynamics.” Mr. Silva supplied the text for Parts 1 through 5, designed the layout, prepared the manuscript for printing and coordinated its production. The entire effort was under the leadership and direction of Patricia Ruggles, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy.
For further information contact:Office of Human Services Policy
Hubert H. Humphrey Bldg., Room 410E
200 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201