Flemming Rule

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The Flemming Rule of 1960 was named after Arthur Flemming, who at the time was the head of United States' Department of Health and Human Services. The Flemming rule was an administrative ruling which decreed that U.S. states could not deny income assistance eligibility through the U.S. Aid to Families with Dependent Children program on the basis of a home being considered unsuitable per the woman's children being termed as illegitimate,[1] a term for the status of a child born to parents who are unmarried to one another.

In 1960, the U.S. state of Louisiana expelled 23,000 children from its welfare program in what became known as the "Louisiana Incident." This was done because the children had been born outside of wedlock, and were considered illegitimate by the state. Similar types of welfare denial had occurred in other states. In response to this, the Louisiana Department of Health, Education and Welfare, administrator of the income assistance program, implemented the Flemming Rule.[2]

A 1997 article by Claudia Lawrence-Webb claimed that the child welfare system had problems fairly representing children of color and signified this problem was due to the Flemming Rule. Webb suggested that the rule was implemented poorly, which led to unnecessary negative consequences for African American children. In the article, Webb also discusses how the Flemming Rule may have influenced future policies.[3]


  1. ^ 1968 Policies and Election 2008 Archived August 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine – Janice Shaw Crouse
  2. ^ A Brief Legislative History of the Child Welfare System Archived July 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine – Kasia O’Neill Murray and Sarah Gesiriech
  3. ^ Lawrence-Webb, Claudia (January–February 1997). "African American Children in the Modern Child Welfare System: A Legacy of the Flemming Rule". Child Welfare, volume 76, no. 1. pp 9–30.

Further reading[edit]

  • Jackson, Sondra Jackson; Brissett-Chapman, Sheryl (1999). Serving African American children: child welfare perspectives. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. ISBN 9781412833929. Retrieved January 23, 2012. ISBN 0-7658-0434-4
  • Babb, Linda Anne (1999). Ethics in American Adoption. Westport, Conn.: Bergin & Garvey. pp. 51–52. Retrieved January 23, 2012. Flemming Rule. ISBN 0-89789-538-X
  • Ward, Deborah E (2005). The White welfare state : the racialization of U.S. welfare policy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472024884. Retrieved January 23, 2012. ISBN 0-472-11455-7