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Lifting the Lid Off the Family Cap: States Revisit Problematic Policy for Welfare Mothers

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Since 1992, 24 states have implemented some type of a family cap policy, usually to discourage welfare recipients from giving birth to children while receiving cash assistance. Recently, however, a handful of states have begun to rethink the family cap.

This policy brief, the first in a series on Childbearing and Reproductive Health Policy, explains what family cap policies are, reviews some of the research on their effectiveness, explains how many families are affected by them, describes challenges that have been mounted against these policies, and recommends that states with family caps consider repealing these mistaken and potentially harmful policies.