Welfare, like many social programs, began during the Great Depression. While the programs of the New Deal helped increase employment, single mothers and widows with children to care for still needed protection. Aid to Dependent Children was established in 1935 to provide financial assistance to those women and children.
In 1962, Aid to Dependent Children became Aid to Families with Dependent Children, in part, to combat the perception that the program discouraged marriage. AFDC was reformed in 1996 under Bill Clinton, who was president at the time, and became Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. TANF instituted a five-year lifetime limit on services, among other reforms.