In the fifty years since its enactment, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) has become increasingly difficult to administer efficiently and equitably. Most recently, this increasing complexity is illustrated by eligibility determinations for divorced families having joint custody of the children. A recent national survey of state agencies administering AFDC programs reveals a diversity of approaches in determining eligibility under the continued absence requirement for joint custody situations. As illustrated by these joint custody cases, the meaningfulness as well as the usefulness of the continued absence requirement for AFDC eligibility has become increasingly questionable in terms of responding to the welfare of financially needy children. Additionally, the continued absence requirement appears to negate the potential advantages of joint custody for poor families by precluding financial assistance from the AFDC program.

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