fare them well

tracking what’s changing for welfare, women and children

Program helps women work to better their lives

The Women’s Bureau has been doing the work to make sure women have jobs since the 1920s.

As part of their venture, the bureau sponsors Working Women in Transition . The multi-regional demonstration project, co-sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor, is designed to assist women who have arrived at a significant transition in their work lives.

Hands.net, a news wire on human service events, detailed the latest graduation from at Working Women in Transition initiative in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The Arkansas-based Hope Center, a faith-based organization, conducted the graduation ceremony for current and past recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) who completed the program.

The transition program currently has initiatives in 11 states.

For more information on how to start an initiative in your area, contact the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau.


December 10, 2007 Posted by | Initiatives | , , | 1 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

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

TANF money funds healthy marriage program

Laurel Community Family Center staff

Is it too intrusive to get good marriage advice through your local government?

One local community group in Laurel, Miss. thinks it’s a good idea, especially for families that can’t afford marital enrichment classes.Yesterday, the Laurel Leader Call featured a program promoting healthy marriages through a TANF grant, awarded by the Department of Human Services under the Mississippi Healthy Marriage Initiative. Mariann Taylor, director of the Laurel Community Family Center, says the grant is necessary for making healthy families, which leads to healthy communities.

When you have strong, stable marriages, it trickles down into all aspects of your society.

“You have a better economy, you have less crime. So that was the city’s thinking in writing this, and I’ve been to some conferences and training, and they’re really applauding the city for being that forward thinking.”

Taylor said governments have begun to fund healthy marriage initiatives across the nation because research shows children, on average, do better when raised in a two-parent family.

The Intiative’s website says “the Mississippi Healthy Marriage Initiative is not a counseling program. ” But it is designed to help singles make informed decisions, and couples making lasting choices.

For more information on the family center, call 601-425-4035.

November 5, 2007 Posted by | Initiatives, Marriage Matters | , , , , | Leave a comment

In Rochester, Project SAVE aims to push families into work

With a grand amount of grant money, one community in upstate New York is giving families the nudge they need to move off of welfare.

In November, County Executive Maggie Brooks proposed an initiative to get welfare recipients into jobs and children in foster care into permanent placements.

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on Nov. 1 reported the local Department of Human Services’ plans to implement Project SAVE.

The department suffered massive layoffs in 2002 when 120 jobs were cut, the paper said.

So, Brooks is hoping to stabilize the department, with the addition of jobs.

Problem is, it will take welfare benefits to do so. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports that Brooks administration officials say they’ll save money by reducing payments to welfare recipients and foster parents.

Taking from welfare to help welfare.

And those new job recipients will be in charging of corralling more families off of welfare.

The system says it’s in such dire straits, it must make mobile families stuck in a cycle of receiving rather than doing.

Here’s how the initiative breaks down:

  • The Department of Human Services will use a $1.3 million state grant to hire 59 new social workers.
  • The grant will cover costs associated with hiring the workers and the equipment they will use. The new staff will fill positions that had been budgeted in prior years but were vacant.
  • Fifty percent of children in foster care return to their immediate families or a relative within six months.
  • The project goal calls for 12,550 temporary public assistance cases per month, on average. That’s a drop of 225 cases from the department’s current count of 12,775.
  • By implementing this program, Monroe County will realize savings of $13.4 million over the next four years due to the reduction in welfare and foster care caseloads at DHS. New strategies will be implemented to allow those needing services that are capable of becoming self-sufficient to become self-sufficient more quickly.

But look closer, for one of these things is not like the others. One goal shows money saved, but a greater loss to local families that most literally don’t make the cut.

November 5, 2007 Posted by | Initiatives, News & Numbers | , , , , | Leave a comment

For Indy welfare benefits are automatic, systematic

Aid for low-income families in Indiana has gone high tech.

Now, residents of 12 north central Indiana can log on or call in to the newly -minted automatic system to see if they qualify for welfare benefits.

At the end of October, Forbes.com reported that the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration rolled out a new automated program to about 10 percent of its caseload of children, senior citizens, and needy and disabled people who receive welfare benefits.

The move is all part of an overhaul in the local system of public aid. On Oct. 3, the FSSA’s Bureau of Child Care announced the TANF transfer of an additional $10 million into the Child Care Development Fund, CCDF.

The transfer is all part of a plan to bump the Hoosier state up in the state poverty rankings nationwide.

Lt. Governor Becky Skillman says, “the extra dollars in the Child Care Development Fund will help serve nearly 2,000 additional children whose parents are transitioning out of the welfare system.”

Yeah, that and the money helps Indiana move from 49th to 30th in Federal Poverty Level served.

And speaking of served, welfare recipients will no longer have to travel to welfare offices for face-to-face meetings, though those meetings are still an option.

The FSSA hopes to eventually spread the 12-county pilot program to all other counties statewide.

November 4, 2007 Posted by | Initiatives, News & Numbers | , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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

Benefit Banks to Open in Arkansas, Gov. Says Come get Unused Funds

Single parents struggling with bountiful bills might considering moving to Arkansas after they hear these numbers. According to an Oct. 9 report by the Arkansas News Bureau, residents pass up on some $280 million in state and federal benefits annually.

That’s why Gov. Mike Beebe announced a plan this month to start a pilot program to help low-income residents receive all the benefits for which they’re entitled.

It’s called the Benefit Bank of Arkansas, and the state’s Transitional Employment Assistance program — under the federal TANF program — is shelling out $1.4 million to make sure no benefit goes unused. Part of that money will be used to train volunteers working in churches, community centers and other public meeting places to register people that qualify for benefits, in an effort to make the process more convenient. The banks will open in seven Arkansas counties, and will stay open longer than normal business hours to accommodate working schedules.

October 15, 2007 Posted by | Initiatives, Money Matters | , , , | Leave a comment

State helps low-income Hoosiers pay for child care

This week, Indiana kicks up its efforts to make sure parents on welfare have affordable child care.

To help low-income families balance work and parenthood, the state is picking up the bill. This month, The Indianapolis Star reports state officials put $10 million toward child care vouchers for thousands of children whose parents are working to get off welfare.

October 7, 2007 Posted by | Initiatives, Kid Concerns | , , , , | Leave a comment