fare them well

tracking what’s changing for welfare, women and children

Shouldn’t child support actually help children?, one blogger asks

A blog by Maureen Lane on DMI Blog has an accurate and understandable synopsis of an ongoing concern for parents on welfare: payments going back to the state.

As I reported in November, a new study by the Institute for Research on Poverty, Public Affairs and Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that:

“Child-support payments for children on welfare are being used in almost every state to recoup state and federal welfare expenses. When Congress created the child-support system 30 years ago, recouping welfare costs by siphoning off collected child-support payments was an explicit goal. Yet close to half the states pass along none of the collected child-support while most others pay only $50 per child, even when a non-custodial parent pays several hundred more.”

In other words, when a custodial parent gets both welfare assistance and child support, many state governments collect the child support to make up the difference.

As a forward-thinking state, Wisconsin officials enacted waiver that allowed the state to forward all money collected to families. As a result, more non-custodial parents came forward and paid more of the money they owed, making families less reliant on aid and making up for any short-term loss of government revenue spent on welfare, according DMI blog.

However, the Bush administration did not renew the waiver, perhaps reflecting a greater emphasis on foreign affairs, rather than low-income economic issues.

According to their motto, DMI Blog covers “Politics, Policy and the American Dream.” At least one of these is missing when it comes to child support and welfare policies.

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December 10, 2007 Posted by | Other Opinions, Pass-Through | , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYT says critics calling for change in child support for welfare families

New York Times

Picture Source: Sally Ryan for The New York Times

Against a doctor’s advice, Karla Hart, a mother of four, took a part-time job at a day care center in Milwaukee to help pay her bills.

She’s the face of a Dec. 1 story in the The New York Times on a state policy that blocks child support payments for parents on welfare.

The Times pulled a clipping from her monthly child-support statement to show why she puts her health on the line to pay her bills:

  • Paid by the father: $229.40
  • Amount deducted to repay federal costs of welfare: $132.18

According to the NYT, close to half the states pass along none of collected child support to families on welfare, while most others pay only $50 a month to a custodial parent, usually the mother, even though the father may be paying hundreds of dollars each month.

Critics say using child support to repay welfare costs harms children instead of helping them, contradicting the national goal of strengthening families, and is a flaw in the generally lauded national campaign to increase collections.

In an Oct. “fare them well” report, “Families benefit from ex-offender jobs,” a story from Indiana supported this notion. The entry highlighted a program in Indianapolis focused on giving recent ex-offenders jobs in order establish an income that could help pay child support as well as court fees.

Work Force Inc.’s mantra is one reason many welfare advocates are pushing for a bill introduced in the house last Feb., which if approved, would allow $50 from a non-custodial paycheck to immediately pass-through to a child, instead of being automatically extracted as restitution to the state for welfare costs.

It’s an outstanding journalistic example of the rising wave of voices speaking out against the prevent of pass-through.

December 3, 2007 Posted by | Bills Bills Bills, Other Opinions, Pass-Through, Politicking | , , , , | 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

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

Time is Ticking in Tennessee

On July 1, Tennessee became the last state in America to adhere to strict time limits on welfare benefits. Families First — the state’s federally-funded public assistance program — must now adapt to the new rules after being waived from national requirements for 11 years in order to establish the system they have now.

This Tennessean editorial asks what should be done for families coming off of welfare after being financially assisted for years?

October 7, 2007 Posted by | Other Opinions | , , , , | Leave a comment