Copyright (c) 1997 Temple University of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education
Temple Law Review
ARTICLE: WHEN WELFARE ENDS: REMOVING CHILDREN FROM THE HOME FOR POVERTY ALONE
70 Temp. L. Rev. 447
Daan Braveman * & Sarah Ramsey **
Proposals to abolish the long-standing United States welfare program moved from rhetoric to reality in 1996, eliminating an important safety net for children living in poverty. Welfare is no longer a federally guaranteed entitlement that a family can rely on to support needy children. The newly enacted Temporary Assistance to Needy Families ("TANF") program, funded by block grants to states, replaces the sixty-year-old Aid to Families with Dependent Children ("AFDC") program. 1 TANF not only removes any entitlement to benefits but also imposes time limits on eligibility for benefits and even more stringent work requirements. 2 The welfare benefit reductions are expected to result in an additional 1.3 million children falling below the poverty line in the United States, 3 which already has a higher percentage of its children living in poverty than other high-income countries. 4
In its haste to eliminate the existing welfare scheme, Congress failed to address the fundamental issue of what will happen to children in families no longer eligible for benefits. Yet, early debates recognized the potential harm to children. 5 Initially, proposals were made to place children of teens and destitute parents in orphanages and group homes. 6 One version of the welfare bill allowed states to use block grant funds for orphanages, implicitly recognizing that some families would be unable to provide for their children. 7 An underlying assumption of these proposals was a belief that the children of poor families would be better cared for in an institution at public ...
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