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Introduction

Alert

DTA made a number of changes and suspended a number of rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guide notes in red when a rule was suspended during the pandemic.

Produced by Deborah Harris and Betsy Gwin, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2022

In 1935, the United States Congress created the Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) program as part of the original Social Security Act. The goal was to help states make it possible for needy children without a parent’s support to live at home rather than in an orphanage. The program became Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) when Congress extended coverage to the child’s parent or other caretaking relative.

For 61 years, states ran the AFDC program in partnership with the federal government. States had to comply with federal laws and regulations. In particular, states had to provide benefits to everyone who met federal eligibility rules.

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