fare them well

tracking what’s changing for welfare, women and children

Cal. wants 28,000 low-income parents into the state’s work force

Sacramento BeeParent fills out paperwork at the Sacramento County Department of Human Services on Friday. SOURCE: Sacbee.com

California is under pressure to get more parents off welfare, and working for their income.

The state’s welfare-to-work program — the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids, or CalWORKS — must meet federal guidelines or face fines.

The Sacramento Bee reports, if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger can’t get 28,000 low-income parents off welfare soon, then  the state could face a $150 million annual penalty and force the state to spend an additional $180 million.

According to the Sac Bee, a draft report released in September suggested two proposals:

• Give $50 more in food stamps to former CalWORKS recipients who make the transition out of the program. Such a move would cost the state $25 million and allow the state to claim credit for successfully moving those people into the work force.

• Establish a state-only welfare assistance program for recipients who have a harder time finding jobs. An elaborate shift of existing state resources is being proposed for funding such a program.

Gov. Schwarzenegger was supposed to turn in a state report detailing a plan to the California legislature Oct. 1.

As of Dec. 4, government and social service leaders were still waiting.

December 10, 2007 Posted by | Money Matters, News & Numbers, Politicking | , , , , | Leave a comment

Illegal immigrants at the top of welfare rolls

If you’re an American without a high-school education. you’re more likely to be on welfare or live in poverty.

Now one study says the same holds true for illegal immigrants.

“Allowing in legal immigrants mainly based on family relationships, and tolerating widespread illegal immigration, certainly has very significant implications for social services, public schools and taxpayer services,” said Steven A. Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, which released the report Nov. 29.

The new report, “Immigrants in the United States 2007: A Profile of America’s Foreign-Born Population, lays out these factors:

Number of Immigrants Living in the U.S. 1995 - 2007

  • The nation’s immigrant population (legal and illegal) reached a record of 37.9 million in 2007.

  • Immigrants account for one in eight U.S. residents, the highest level in 80 years.

  • Of adult immigrants, 31 percent have not completed high school, compared to 8 percent of natives.
  • The proportion of immigrant-headed households using at least one major welfare program is 33 percent, compared to 19 percent for native households.

Both immigrants and illegal aliens are more likely to be poor and to use welfare programs than native-born Americans because they come to the country with lower levels of education, according to a new study based on U.S. Census Bureau data.

The Center has pushed for a crackdown on illegal aliens and a slowdown in legal immigration, and Camarota said his numbers show that the family-based system puts a strain on taxpayer-funded services.

But according to the Times, Angela Kelley, director of the Immigration Law Foundation, said the report didn’t capture the true American experience of immigration.

“Immigrants come to this country; they work hard; if they can get legal status, that improves their chances, they buy homes, they learn English, they intermarry—and it’s been the success story of this nation,” she said.

December 3, 2007 Posted by | Critiques & Critics, News & Numbers, Related Reports, Research | , , , , | 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

‘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

Moving Off TANF slows nationwide

The Urban Institute has released a new report that shows the move from federal public aid to self-sufficiency has slowed down over the last decade.

The study says, between 1997 and 2002, the percentage of people who left welfare because they entered the workforce declined from 70 to 56 percent.

The findings detail that in 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) emphasized hard work and temporary dependence on public assistance for persons on welfare. Caseloads fell dramatically in the 90s. But the study shows that the remaining families on welfare — bogged down in an overburdened system — seem to stuck on slow.

TANF Caseload Compition and Leavers Synthesis Report (it’s a big PDF, click wisely)

October 15, 2007 Posted by | News & Numbers | , , , | Leave a comment