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Abstract

Eleven million people, mostly mothers and children, depend on Aid to Families with Dependent Children, America's largest child welfare program. Much is wrong with AFDC welfare, and serious efforts are being made, again, to reform it. So far, no major attempts at reform have been successful. If reform is to succeed, we must understand what needs to be corrected and what does not.

What's right with welfare? This study, not an apology or excuse for AFDC, answers that rarely asked question. Part I surveys background. Part II cites myths and criticisms of AFDC and portrays poverty as it afflicts children and female-headed households. The focus of the analysis is on the depiction of 12 positive features of AFDC. Hidden in this unpopular form of aid are income transfer policy principles important to any consideration of welfare reform. To overlook these principles and to continue to ignore what is right with welfare may doom all efforts at reform.

Our blindness to what is good about AFDC extends to most public social programs and all become vulnerable to attack and budget reductions. Americans need to be made aware of the desirable aspects of their social programs. By scrutinizing AFDC, the most maligned of programs, this analysis is a step in that direction.

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