ABC aimed to increase earnings for recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) through personal responsibility requirements, work provisions, and time limits on benefit receipt.
ABC was one of the demonstration projects made possible by Section 1115 waivers to the rules in effect at the time for the AFDC program. These Section 1115 waivers allowed states to test new approaches to advance the objectives of the AFDC program.
ABC required participants to comply with three provisions and failure to meet any of these could result in reductions in their AFDC benefits. First, participants had to sign a contract of mutual responsibilities that committed them to attending employment, training, or education activities and to meeting certain parental behavior expectations, such as ensuring that children follow their school’s attendance requirements. The employment and training activities could include postsecondary education, job search assistance, job development, and subsidized employment. ABC also disallowed grant increases for children conceived while the parent was enrolled in ABC, and parents younger than 18 were required to live with an adult guardian. Second, participants (including those with young children) were subject to work provisions, including being financially sanctioned if they quit their job without good cause and increased incentives to work through retaining more of their cash grants if their earned income increased. Work provisions also included expanded supportive services such as assistance with transportation, child care, and expanded health coverage. Third, participants were subject to full-family time limits that allowed them to search for a job and receive cash benefits for no more than two years; after two years, participants had to accept a community-service job to remain eligible for assistance for another two years.
ABC participants received services until they left AFDC for employment or reached the time limit for benefits, which was a maximum of four years. AFDC recipients were required to participate in ABC program employment and training activities, except for parents who had children younger than 13 weeks old or who were medically unable to work. ABC was implemented in 5 of Delaware’s 13 AFDC offices.