In a scene that is repeated many times every day all over the country, a young woman walks into a state office that offers benefits under Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the major benefit program in the United States for families in poverty. She is there for a routine eligibility review, but she is also worried about a landlord who is threatening eviction, about the health of her younger child, and about her older child, who is not doing well in school. With her younger son always crying from ear infections and her older child skipping school, she feels at her wits' end about how to cope with them -- let alone how to find a new apartment that she can afford on the $400-a-month AFDC check. She may have to move the whole family into one room in her mother's apartment, but she and her mother always fight about child rearing and she does not trust her mother's boyfriend anywhere near the kids after her own experiences of his sexual advances.
What will happen to this young woman in the welfare office? One state welfare eligibility worker reports on how she conducts eligibility interviews:
The clients] would get a packet which they had filled out when they came in. . . . [We] make sure they have no changes. . . . Then we have the computer forms that we have to do.
Interviewer: Does it ever come up . . . problems that the client has?
A: Yeah. . . . We have a lot that sometimes don't have the money to pay their rent. We don't basically handle that here, but we have different agencies that we can refer them to. . . . Some of them will just call afraid of their husband or the father of the child. We really can't do anything here, but we can give