fare them well

tracking what’s changing for welfare, women and children

NY families not getting eligible money, study finds

The Center for Governmental Research— a non-partisan, independent think thank based in Rochester, NY — released a report this fall documenting a nearly 40 percent decline in children receiving subsidies since 2001–from 13,575 children served in an average month in 2001 to 8,400 children served on average during the first four months of 2007.

According to the report, over 12,000 children in Monroe County are living in families that are potentially eligible for child care assistance and are not receiving it.

Many of those families also receiving TANF, or welfare aid, but still are not receiving extra child assistance.

The report details several policy changes at the county and state levels have contributed to the decline in children receiving assistance:

  • Since 2002, income eligibility for child care subsidies in Monroe County has fallen from 200 percent of poverty to 165 percent.
  • While fewer families are income-eligible for assistance, more parents seeking child care subsidies are being denied. The rate of applicant denial increased from 11 percent in 2001 to 50 percent in 2006. A contributing factor to this increase in denials was failure of applicants to comply with a 2004 New York State law that requires applicants to seek child support payment as a condition of receiving child care assistance. (Federal law does not require parents to seek child support from a non-custodial parent in order to obtain a child care subsidy although several states have this requirement.)
  • Finally, the county has decreased spending on child care in recent years, contributing to an accumulation of approximately $5 million in unspent child care funds.

The report was unable to conclude why a large number of TANF child care cases were of a short duration or why few families transitioned to the income-eligible child care assistance program.

December 10, 2007 Posted by | Kid Concerns, Related Reports | , , , , , | 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

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

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

ND officials say fewer families depending on welfare

When North Dakota officials decided to assess just how welfare had fared in the past ten years, the numbers were enough to know.

Last June, 2,073 North Dakota families received TANF aid, according to the Jamestown Sun.

To put that in perspective, the North Dakota Department of Human Services website reports that, “in July 1997, when the state implemented welfare reform, 3,859 families were receiving TANF assistance.”

But in the past several years, a closer look will show that the decrease in families often had nothing to do with finding stable jobs.

  • Of 7,392 TANF cases closed between July 2005 and June 2007:
    • 180 are listed as closed due to employment; 42 because the five-year limit was reached
    • 225 because they were sanctioned for not complying with work or educational programs
    • 1,508 because they had excess unearned income or began collecting child support due them.
    • Other reasons account for the rest.

The drop in welfare families comes in large part because of the state’s excellent economy, state officials said last week.

November 8, 2007 Posted by | Related Reports | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Study says risk of school failure related to low-income

Pennsylvania officials sounded an alarm on the status of low-income families in a recent study analyzing the academic achievements of the state’s most needy students.

Last month, The Times-Leader out of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. printed the results for their local area, Luzerne County.

The state looked at seven criteria statistically known to increase the odds that a child will struggle in school, such as coming from a low-income family or having parents who did not earn a high school degree. Using the data, the state gave each county a rating from 1 to 4. The higher the number, the greater the risk.

In Luzerne County, their score &mash; 1 2.71 @mdash; puts local children at a ‘moderately high’ risk of academic failure.

Locally, 4.4 percent of children receive aid as part of TANF families.

The state analyzed state math and reading standardized test sores for third-grade students, reviewing the percentage of students who scored below “proficient.” The lower the percentage, the better the county is doing. In math, slightly less than 18 percent of Luzerne third-graders scored below proficient. The state average was 21.5 percent. In reading, where the state average was 27.2 percent below proficient, Luzerne County had one-quarter of the students below that mark.

This is just a sampling of a community in the middle of an axis of academic achievement.

For county-by-county statistics — a full picture of the issues — see these websites:

November 4, 2007 Posted by | Educational, Related Reports, Research | , , , , | 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

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

Report: How does Your State Spend TANF Funds?

The Center for Law and Social Policy has released a preliminary report on how states have spent their TANF allowances as of October 2007. See how your state stacks up. Browse comprehensive PDF and Excel files on how 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the entire country spent funds to help families in need.

To give you a sneak peak at the numbers, as a whole, the federal government and the country had more than $16 billion to spend in TANF and Maintenance of Effort federal funds for the 2006 fiscal year. So why did they have more than $4 billion left over that same year? Click below to find out where federal aid is spent most.

Analysis of Fiscal Year 2006 TANF and MOE Spending

October 15, 2007 Posted by | Money Matters, Related Reports, Research | , , | Leave a comment