fare them well

tracking what’s changing for welfare, women and children

Families benefit from ex-offender jobs

Workforce, Inc.

They’re in the business of recycling.

But its more about the renewal of lives rather than resources.

Workforce Inc. is a computer recycling program in Indianapolis that hires ex-offenders for 6-month jobs that help them move from prisons to the first paycheck.

Persons who served five or more consecutive years in a state correctional facilities are eligible.

In an Oct. 21 column in The Indianapolis Star, Gregg Keesling, president of Workforce Inc., says work provides a distraction from destruction; and old habits are difficult to quit when desperation hits.

From child support to probation monitoring fees, bills await most who come out of prison. While bills await, jobs do not; roughly 70 percent of employers won’t hire felons, Keesling said. Of course, you don’t have to pass a background check to deal drugs or break into a house.

Keesling’s observations support the need for a bill introduced in the house in the last session that would allow some of those first funds from jobs to be set aside as child support for those families that are also receiving welfare funds. In other words, some of the money would “pass through” to benefit families receiving assistance through TANF block grants.

But House Bill 896 has yet to make it out of the committee circle. For now, more programs are needed to give people who have offended a chance to support a family, instead of that family subsisting on public aid.

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October 31, 2007 Posted by | Bills Bills Bills, Initiatives | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

MO welfare official tells all to come and apply

At a recent public meeting on the services provided by the state of Missouri, one welfare official set out to be the least bias in the bunch

Family Support Division
trainer Lucy Torres, who specializes in helping women with children, in explaining details of the various regulations for the state programs, made good on the term equal opportunity.

According to reports, Torres said the goal of TANF is to get you back on your feet.

“Even if you think you are not eligible for TANF, come and apply,” Torres said. “We understand need.”

Currently, the state limit for welfare assistance is 60 months, but Torres insisted that exceptions can be made for such issues as disability and medical reasons.

For more information on the resources and programs available call (816) 471-2330. If you need more clarification on Missouri benefits, you can reach Lucy Torres at (816) 889-2343.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | Meeting Matters | , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-commerce official fesses up to welfare fraud

Newsday.com reports that a New Jersey public official faked a low-income status in order to collect benefits.

Lesly Devereaux was formerly second-in-command of the state Commerce Commission.

In a trial hearing on Oct. 26, The Associated Press reports, “She told the judge she applied for food stamps as a clerk-typist when she was really a private-practice lawyer. She collected about six months worth of benefits for children living in her home, which she’ll have to repay, lawyers said.”

The 49-year-old faces five to 10 years in prison when she’s sentenced in December.

She’ll also be disbarred and prohibited from holding any public-sector job in the state.

Oh, and Deveraux’s lawyer says she would’ve qualified for the benefits, had she not lied. The reason she made up her status? She was embarrassed.

It’s cases like this that bring the icky stereotype to light; women like Deveraux are the reason the welfare queen stereotype perpetuates. She would’ve been like every other person seeking extra assistance for a temporary hardship, but she was too proud to be humble.

October 29, 2007 Posted by | Busted, Politicking | , , , | Leave a comment

Welfare royalty take their message to the stage

welfareQUEENS the play

There’s a performance on the west coast that’s making royal what has historically been deemed irresponsible.

welfareQUEENS is a play that debuted last April in San Francisco, according to the website, Poor Magazine Online.

The play challenges the stereotyping of black and Latino single mothers lazily filling up welfare rolls to take care of their umpteen amount of children.

The play title is the latest social pun in a movement to reclaim words that have for so long degraded disenfranchised and voiceless populations. As blogger riffRag puts it,

Through intentional use of the highly problematic objectifying label/stereotype of ‘welfare queen’, originally coined by Ronald Reagan as an extremely derogatory reference to poor mothers who were receiving cash aid from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the welfare QUEENS project will re-contextualize the word and who it refers to in the framework of a post welfare reform, increasing stratified American society. This society makes it illegal to be poor; this society does not recognize, support or legitimize the “work” involved in raising children; and this society is quick to accuse poor mothers of the crime of being poor rather than recognize the heroism of their survival.

And the goal of the play isn’t to be preachy. The script was written by, and the cast staring have all been on welfare, or struggled as working poor. The team is headed by long-time Bay Area activist and journalist, Lisa Gray-Garcia, author of the memoir, Criminal of Poverty – Growing up Homeless in America.

October 29, 2007 Posted by | Happenings | , , , | Leave a comment

Panel to discuss myth of the black welfare queen

The California State University’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality will host a forum on the the myth of the black welfare queen on Nov. 27. See the listing below for details.

The Myth of the Welfare Queen: Women of Color and Poverty in L.A.
This panel of welfare scholars and local activists explore women of color and poverty rates in Los Angeles, the effects of the 1996 welfare reform legislation that ended welfare as we know it, and how “welfare to work” programs contribute to the cycle of poverty in the U.S.
When: Tuesday, November 27, 2007 5:00PM
Where: Salazar Hall C258
More Information: Call the Cross Cultural Centers at (323) 343-5001 for more information.

For those out there who attend, fill in us by having your say below.

October 29, 2007 Posted by | Culturally Speaking, Happenings | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Report updates status of state spending on children

A 1992 study by the Rockefeller Institute was updated earlier this month using the latest date compiled in 2004. The New York-based public policy group found that state and local spending per children grew from 34 percent between 1992 and 2004, accounting for inflation. State Funding for Children: Spending in 2004 and How it Changed From Earlier Years

State Spending

  • Out of the $467 billion spent by state and local governments on major programs for children in the fiscal year 2004, about about 1 out of ten dollars supported programs like TANF, child care and other welfare services. The rest of those dollars went to education initiatives for grades K-12
  • Spending on children under TANF accounted for $8 billion

TANF Spending Declines

  • All other spending increased $0 per child, or 19 percent, reflecting strong growth in spending on child welfare program and earned income tax credit, offset in part by real per-child declines in spending on family assistance (TANF and related program).

According to the study, real per-child spending on rose a mere .2 percentage points in a decade, from 4.1 to 4.3. If a decline in TANF spending is meant to reflect states’ efforts to move more families off welfare and into full-time work, to where are those extra funds being allocated?

October 29, 2007 Posted by | Money Matters, Related Reports | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Tis the season to be scrooged: welfare office wants its money back

An editorial by a New Hampshire paper is bringing the scrooge spirit a little earlier than December this year.

The Concord Monitor Online wrote an Oct. 14 editorial blasting town officials in the community of Epsom for sending out letters reminding welfare recipients to pay back the state’s charitable giving — plus six percent interest.

Yes, ’tis the season for giving, and we mean give us back our money, contends the Monitor staff. Moreover, the paper specifically wagged a an editorial finger at Town Welfare Officer Lisa Cote.

Cote, who doesn’t seem to understand her obligations under the state’s Right to Know Law, declined to say how many welfare recipients were sent letters reminding them of the liens, how much is owed the town in aggregate, or how far back some of the debts go. Though the specifics of each welfare case are private, the rest of the information is not. Epsom residents, or anyone else who asks about them, should expect a timely answer.

The Monitor points out that the state law on repayment is optional, providing the recipient if financially able to repay. But once targeted, welfare recipients risk having a lien placed on their property if they don’t pay up, as the paper detailed in an Oct. 12 article, “Epsom wants welfare funds paid back.”

At least Cote won’t get coal in her stocking from one reader. She might call him the good guy in the story, pun intended. Guy Goodwin says he thinks the editorial was a personal attack on the welfare official.

Cote aside, why isn’t the welfare office more forthright with the list of people they mailed? If they are so adamant to recollect money, why not serve up the list of people they’ve assisted?

Working divorced mother Colleen Neely says applied for welfare 15 years ago to help out with her suddenly single-parent status. Are these mailings a scarlet letter to keep certain families out of Epsom?

October 29, 2007 Posted by | Money Matters, News & Numbers | , , , , | Leave a comment

Lawmakers push for public aid for low-income citizens on U.S. islands

The Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau.

They may be freely associated territories of the U.S. but their affiliation comes at a price.

Under a law, the Compact of Free Association, the United States is required to . is required to allow island residents free entry into the United States as non-immigrants for the purposes of education, medical treatment, and employment. But, these immigrants are not eligible for public assistance.

Members of Hawaii’s U.S. House of Representatives have supported legislation to reinstate certain Federal benefits to citizens of the Freely Associated States, citing the State’s “increasingly costly burden” of providing health and social services to migrants. These states include the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau.

A recent report on a blog from the Marshall Islands does a great job of breaking down the arguments behind the push to change the rules.

On Thursday, Congresswomen Mazie Hirono, with colleague Congressman Neil Abercrombie, introduced a bill to provide public assistance in the form of Medicaid, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and Supplemental Security Income, SSI, to citizens from these islands residing in the United States.

Below is a excerpt from the current bill in question.

  • (G) MEDICAID AND TANF EXCEPTIONS FOR CITIZENS OF FREELY ASSOCIATED STATES- With respect to eligibility for benefits for the programs defined in sub-paragraphs (A) and (C) of paragraph (3) (relating to temporary assistance for needy families and medicaid), paragraph (1) shall not apply to any individual who lawfully resides in the United States (including territories and possessions of the United States) in accordance with a Compact of Free Association referred to in subsection (a)(2)(M).’.

October 28, 2007 Posted by | Legislation | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toronto Study Gets Tough on Welfare Policy

Maybe the United States can pick up some tips on productive public assistance from the neighbor to the north.

Over the past decade, more Canadians have gotten jobs, and the overall poverty rate has declined.

The Canadian Press writer Tobi Cohen says a study released in October by the C.D. Howe Institute, attempts to debunk the “doom and gloom” reports rampant about rising poverty rates.

In Reducing Poverty: What has Worked, and What Should Come Next, author John Richards finds that policies encouraging employment for low-income families, along with improved labor market conditions, have been key to reducing poverty in Canada.

The study points out how full-time working opportunities for a head of household can have a positive inter-generational effect that trumps the toughness of Canada’s welfare policy. For example,

The role model effect of a working parent increases the probability that children complete high school and avoid teenage pregnancy, two strong indicators of inter-generational escape from poverty. This effect exists even among lone-parent families where parental employment may reduce time for parenting.

Thus, the emphasis on employment, the study reports.

While it never hurts to have a comparative eye on issues effecting other communities, what implications could this study have on American policies on welfare?

Well, the study also identified several areas that need work:

  • Greater focus on education and closing the disparity gap for grades K-12. “The importance of education in increasing employment and lowering poverty” is noteworthy the study reports.
  • More attention for marginalized groups, such as Canada’s large Aboriginal population.
  • Recognizing that more caseloads deal with persons with serious mental and/or physical disabilities, meaning that “social workers (must) simultaneously restrict access to welfare among the employable, and be generous to the disabled.”

With each of these problems, however, there was a dialogue begun, without suggestions on how to implement solutions for their conclusions.

STUDY: Falling Poverty Rates Reflect Social Policy Success: C.D. Howe Institute

October 22, 2007 Posted by | Other Opinions, Related Reports, Research | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blogger says Mom with Mercedes not typical for welfare

Feeding children of low-incomes families in the United States is as simple as W-I-C.courtesy the WIC Program

For years, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children has provided food, education and social services to low-income participants at no cost. The WIC serves pregnant women, postpartum and breast-feeding women, as well as infants and children up to five years who have nutritional needs.

Each month, more than 8.1 million people receive WIC benefits in the form of grants provided by the federal government to each state. But not all WIC state agency policies are alike.

One parent fed up with the uneven policy of asking customers if they use WIC funds wrote about the policy in his blog. Average Bro says his wife was appalled that a cashier at Giant Food grocery store allegedly asked his African American wife if she was paying for the baby food piled in her hands with WIC funds. The woman had been to the store several times and says she’s never been asked this question.

Never.

Thing is, AverageBro found fault in the fact that he thinks his wife is anything but an “average” WIC mom. Rather, she was a model mom. He writes,

why in the hell would a cashier look at my wife an assume we’re in need of public assistance? My wife is a statuesque former college homecoming queen and beauty pageant winner. She also (pre-AverageBaby) was a bank vice president. She is educated and intelligent. She is home by choice, not by circumstance, because her husband (who is also intelligent and educated) can afford the luxury. She took the baby food outside and placed it in her Mercedes Benz. She drove the Mercedes Benz back to a half-million dollar home. But all the cashier saw when she looked at her was a welfare mother.

One man’s opinion, yes. But it is dangerous for The WIC says states choose stores based on “the prices of foods, the business integrity of the store’s owner, and the variety and quantity of foods available in the store.” It’s a concern that perhaps these stores are being chosen because of the notion of being near low-income households. To assume that every customer is a recipient of WIC just because of a certain neighborhood characteristics does not go far to lessen stereotyping of low-income families. What’s more, WIC stipulations mention little on a set, uniformed policy on asking customers about receiving benefits. If the standard varies from state to state, no doubt it varies from customer to customer.

WIC Fact Sheet

October 22, 2007 Posted by | Other Opinions | , , , , , , | Leave a comment