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Poor Enough to Be Eligible? Child Abuse, Neglect, and the Poverty Requirement

27 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2008 Last revised: 13 Mar 2008

Susan Vivian Mangold

SUNY Buffalo Law School


Under current federal law, an abused or neglected child must be poor to be eligible for federal funds for foster care maintenance payments. Eligibility is not determined on the basis of abuse or neglect alone; in addition, the child's family must be indigent. Foster care reimbursement is entangled with the now defunct Aid to Family with Dependent Children (AFDC) eligibility requirements resulting in irrelevant and costly administrative eligibility determinations. This article looks at the history of the relationship between foster care and AFDC and argues that the income eligibility for foster care reimbursement should be eliminated. The federal funds saved by eliminating this costly administrative assessment should then be directed into the shelter, food and clothing needs of children in care.

Keywords: child abuse, child neglect, foster care, AFDC eligibility, child welfare, Title IV-E, foster care independent living, adoption assistance, adoption subsidies

Suggested Citation

Mangold , Susan Vivian, Poor Enough to Be Eligible? Child Abuse, Neglect, and the Poverty Requirement. Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-05; St. John's Law Review, Vol. 81, No. 2, 2007. Available at SSRN:

Susan Vivian Mangold (Contact Author)

SUNY Buffalo Law School ( email )

School of Law
528 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
716-645-2428 (Phone)
716-645-2900 (Fax)

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