fare them well

tracking what’s changing for welfare, women and children

To catch a welfare thief, start with the state

In a Nov. 23 article by The Advocate out of Baton Rouge, LA, the numbers are clear, but the destination is not.

Millions of dollars are given away each year in public assistance programs such as TANF, but many government officials don’t know where they end up.

According to the article, during the past fiscal year, Louisiana spent more than $42 million in two TANF-funded cash assistance programs it administers — the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program and the Kinship Care Subsidy Program.

But the federal law that created TANF in 1996 requires state agencies to confirm “the state has established and is enforcing standards and procedures to ensure against program fraud and abuse,” the article said.

But policy experts say the broad definition of welfare fraud makes it hard to catch.

  • Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a senior policy analyst for the Center for Law and Social Policy, said in an e-mail that she does not know of any state that puts specific limits on how TANF cash assistance may be spent, so there is technically no such thing as “misuse of funds.”
  • Kenneth Wolfe, spokesman for the national Administration for Children and Families said the federal government ultimately oversees the funding of cash assistance programs, but it is the state and local agencies that are the direct administrators.
  • “No state in the nation monitors what is purchased with the monthly benefits,” Louisiana Department of Social Services spokeswoman Cleo Allen said.
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November 26, 2007 Posted by | Busted, Critiques & Critics, Legally Speaking | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A little healthy suffering never hurt, one expert says

Voice for Uninsured

Some economists believe Census data indicates an estimated 47 million Americans have chosen not to have health insurance.

And according to one professor, that’s their prerogative, and a necessary right.

In a Nov. 21 Accuracy in Media column entitled, “Unhealthy Freedoms,” West Virginia University Professor Daniel Shapiro argues that in a world that stresses egalitarian paradigms of a health system ensuring insurance for all, shouldn’t someone have just as much right to choose not to be healthy?

Yes Shapiro’s actually arguing against health care for all.

He’s speaking out in reaction to the latest campaign by the American Medical AssociationVoice for the Uninsured— encouraging voters to think about uninsured Americans when they hit the polls. His latest book, Is the Welfare State Justified?, examines the TANF system.

Instituting a universal healthcare system would undermine citizen’s positive rights by placing their health care choices under bureaucratic government control, argues Shapiro. “All national health insurance [programs] promise a very general right to medically-necessary care….or right to access whatever the system offers. However, judicial remedies when care is denied are non-existent or weak,” in countries with universal healthcare systems, he says.

Shapiro also believes a universal system would benefit the rich and well-connected, many of whom would be able to afford better, more prompt healthcare, the article said.

So what about all-inclusive? Would you feel any less independent to have the government footing your feel-good bills?

November 26, 2007 Posted by | Critiques & Critics, Initiatives, Media Matters, Money Matters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Talk with Tom Caplan, Associate Dir. of the Institute for Research on Poverty

Click below to listen in on our chat:

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November 22, 2007 Posted by | Legislation, Money Matters | , , , , | Leave a comment

Talk with Tom Caplan, expert on child support pass-through laws

In Oct. 2007, the Institute for Research on Poverty released a pivotal study on a hot topic for welfare recipients. Many state laws allow the state to collect $50 a month from welfare recipients who also receive child support.

Today, I spoke with Tom Caplan, associate director of the institute the study and implications it has on the correlation between child support and welfare benefits.

Click below to listen to the chat http://hilaryp.podbean.com/medias/play/aHR0cDovL21lZGlhMS5wb2RiZWFuLmNvbS9wb2RjYXN0LWJsb2ctYXVkaW8tdmlkZW8tbWVkaWEtZmlsZXMvYmxvZ3MvMjc0OTEvdXBsb2Fkcy9XaXNjV2VsZmFyZUludGVydmlldzEubXAz/WiscWelfareInterview1.mp3>Listen%20to%20this%20episode</a></font>

Can’t hear the audio? Read on for a full copy of the transcript.

Hilary: How important is the topic of welfare is to your research institute?

Tom: The institute was founded 40 years ago during the war on poverty, in the 1960s.

Hilary: This study specifically dealt with the difference between disregard and pass-through?

Tom: Before the big national welfare reform of 1996, the U.S. government had one policy for how states should treat child support. Any private child support that exceeded $50 just reimbursed the state and federal government. So after 1996, the policy changed and states weren’t required anymore to disregard the first $50 of child support. Most states chose not to, so that every dollar of child support that came in, none of it went to the children.

Hilary: Do you think the general public understands the importance of having pass-through?

Tom: No, I don’t think so at all. On the one hand, look, we’re giving these people public benefits, and that’s meeting their basic needs. Any money that comes in from public child support, that ought to reimbursement the public. On the other hand, if someone said that ‘gee, we’re not providing that much with public welfare benefits so that if a family is able to receive private child support, it ought to be on top of those basic welfare benefits. I think people would believe that too.

Hilary: The study found that pass-through has had a negative effect on the non-custodial parent being responsible and continuing to upkeep their payments. Do you feel like that’s accurate?

Tom: The study was setup by states where some people in are randomly assigned to get pass-through, and some parents were assigned not to get pass-through. If we could look at  state policies where it was all done one-way and it wasn’t an experiment, we’d have a more accurate account.

Hilary: But what if people don’t see a benefit in having $50 more dollars going to a family?

Tom: It’s surprising that absent parents know that the money is going to the family, and their willingness does not always happen.  I think the supposition, that pass-through does not does not increase the willingness of a non-custodial parent to pay, the likely reason for that is that in most states it’s pretty hard to get away with not paying.

Hilary: With all of those variables taken into account, we’re still seeing more single moms now more than ever. DO you think we’ll see more push for pass-through?

Tom: Well, I do. The federal government just passed legislation that allows states to do pass-throughs. I don’t know if we’ll ever see a majority of states do this.

Hilary: Where could someone who wants more information about pass-through go onine?

Tom: It’s: www.irp.wisc.edu/publications

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Kid Concerns, Legislation, Listening, Money Matters, Pass-Through, Related Reports, Research | , , , | 1 Comment

TANF money loss matters for Marietta

Due to looming cuts in the state budget, one social service program in Ohio faces losing a large chunk of its TANF funds.

 The Marietta Times reports that the Washington County Department of Job and Family Services could lose between  $500,000 and $600,000 cut from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) fund. This grant is supplied to the state by the federal government and distributed to various organizations throughout Ohio, according to the report.

This will drop the amount of money they get from the TANF fund to around $2.2 million this fiscal year, the paper reports.

More budget hearings are set for Mon. Nov. 19th.

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Money Matters | , , , | Leave a comment

CA woman arrested for 5-figure welfare fraud

According to the Ventura County Star, one local woman may (greedily) take the cake for the largest welfare fraud case in the county.

Police this week arrested an Oxnard woman on suspicion of stealing more than $41,000 in cash aid and food stamps.

Police report she was not entitled to receive the assistance.

“This is actually one of our largest welfare fraud cases,” said Vinse Gilliam, deputy chief investigator with the district attorney.

If convicted, Teresa Arias, 34, could be sent to prison for up to three years.

Her possible illegal Ventura venture has led me to create a category dedicated to those who’ve heisted public funds.

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Busted, Legally Speaking | , , , | Leave a comment

IN brings the heat for low-income families

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels announced last week that $56 million will help heat up Hoosier homes this winter.

inSide Indiana Business reports the money will come from the state’s Energy Assistance Program.

The assistance program includes $44 million of federal funds, $6.9 million from a special allocation of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds previously ordered by the governor, and $4.7 million in contingency and carry-over funds from the 2006-07 program year.

The money will help individuals and families with incomes up to 150 percent of the poverty level who need help paying their winter heating bills.

Daniels increased the level of eligibility from 125 percent of the poverty level to 150 percent of the poverty level two years ago.

To get more information on the assistance program, contact your local utility company.

November 18, 2007 Posted by | Initiatives | , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog says immigrants scapegoats for poor social security system

Count the opinion as you will, but know it’s from an Everyday Citizen.

A blog entry on Nov. 14th from the site Everyday Citizen corners one viewer who comments, “the majority of illegal aliens in this country are from Mexico and they know exactly what they are doing. For them, America is the land of the free – health care, welfare, food stamps, no taxes on their income …”

As blogger Larry James would have you know it, illegal immigrants do not qualify for TANF benefits and subsidized assistance.

James is CEO of Central Dallas Ministries (CDM), a human and community development corporation with a focus on economic and social justice at work in inner city neighborhoods.

That notion is supported by a commentary like this one by the San Diego Union-Tribune, entitled, Illegal Immigrants and Social Security.

If not for the billions in payroll taxes that illegal immigrants are paying into the system, the funding crisis facing Social Security would be much more serious and much more imminent

Writer Ruben Navarette brings out the fact that the stream of illegal immigrants is a cycle, supported by the acceptance of bogus identification by so-called reputable companies. The passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act support the need to have a Social Security Card, not to prove that card is real. As a result, many adults, children, and families sow the social benefits from which we reap, without getting a cut they also, by illegal means, seek. 

November 18, 2007 Posted by | Other Opinions | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Calling the kettle black — and white

One blogger on Balloom Juice has opened up a big can of assumption.

In a Nov. 15th, he started a discussion saying,

We still have a costly welfare bureaucracy that caters more to minorities than to whites, but it’s no longer a political liability for liberals because the system is no longer the disaster that it became in the Seventies and Eighties. Is this accurate? I had assumed (perhaps because I am from West Virginia), that there were FAR more whites on social services than minorities. Are we talking about percentages, or real numbers, or what?”

What say you? Click here to log on and join in on the crass chatter.

November 17, 2007 Posted by | Other Opinions | , , , | Leave a comment

New Yorker sick of state health policies

Courstesy Fed-Up in Western New York

One blogger in New York has one DVD on the top of his Christmas list.

Fed- Up in Western New York reports gives points to Michael Moore’s movie Sicko — now on DVD — for illuminating disparities in national and local health systems.

He took a lesson from the movie and found out that one in six adults in NY don’t have health insurance. That fact came from a story in the New York Sun: about a report from the state department of health, entitled: Report: One Million New Yorkers Are Without Insurance.

Fed-Up also dug deeper to find out just how many children and families are dependent on public aid and Medicaid from the state:

But according to the blog, a new stadium is the only thing on the state’s wish list for residents upstate.

November 12, 2007 Posted by | Related Reports | , , , , , | Leave a comment