A background on welfare for mothers with dependent children and how numbers of new entrants coincide with economic times.
The social program known as welfare traces its origin back to the Great Depression, when it was created as part of the Social Security Act of 1935. The program was designed to provide support to mothers with dependent children whose fathers had left the family, become incapacitated, or died.
During the first 25 years of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the program operated as intended, caseloads were relatively low, and the general public either accepted the program as satisfying a legitimate social need or was at least unconcerned with it. However, the broad social changes of the 1960s would drastically alter the public’s opinion toward welfare, providing an impetus toward reform. Perhaps the most influential social change was the steady increase in the percent of working mothers.
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