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.

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

Ind. apartment owner told to give back welfare funds

In the season that celebrates giving, one Indianapolis apartment agency may be returning welfare aid for alleged illegal actions.

WRTV-TV reports the Indiana Housing Authority is calling for the owners of the Phoenix Apartments to repay $300,000.

Officials said the complex failed to disclose required information to qualify for the payments.

14748128_240x180.jpg Bud Myers, of the Indianapolis Housing Authority, said RCM Phoenix Partners, which owns the Phoenix apartments, supplied incorrect information to the agency to get federal aid. Myers also said there are other problems, WRTV-TV reports.

The apartment complex recently drew local and national attention as the location where a 3-year-old was tortured and beaten to death by her parents.

Federal rules require welfare landlords to disclose troubled business deals and legal problems. RCM has until Dec. 14 to repay the money or challenge the order.


December 10, 2007 Posted by | Busted, Courts and Crime, Legally Speaking | , , | Leave a comment

Welfare worker sentenced for stealing more than $100,000

Fictitious families received more than $105,654 over five years according to prosecutors in a case against a Georgia woman accused of stealing money from the welfare office she worked at. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Gayla Owens, 43, a 15-year veteran of the state Division of Family and Children Services, pleaded guilty to stealing the money.

Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Kellie Hill said of the workers used the money to pay off gambling debts, she said. Hill said these workers have the responsibility to use tax dollars to help needy families.

None of the workers is still employed by DFCS.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville Owens to 15 years of probation and said she must avoid employment that allows her access to public funds.
Related: Welfare worked pleads guilty to bilking agency of $105,654

December 10, 2007 Posted by | Busted, Courts and Crime | , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

Rhode Island welfare needs exceed time limits

This month, for many welfare recipients in Rhode Island the time of the year that centers on giving is more about needing.

Nearly half of the state’s 10,755 families receiving cash assistance last year had been on welfare rolls for more than five years, according to data provided by the Department of Human Services. And nearly one quarter of the families had been on cash assistance for more than 10 years.

The problem is, the time limit for receiving aid under the state’s current plan is five years.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Human Services website, the state’s welfare program underwent sweeping changes a decade ago:

  • New Family Independence Program: There is now a five-year, lifetime limit on the receipt of cash benefits for adult members receiving benefits.
  • Old AFDC Program: Cash assistance was considered an entitlement and there was no time limit on the receipt of cash benefits.

Now Governor Donald Carcieri is considering cuts to the New Family Independence Program. According to The Providence Journal, “the governor suggested …on talk radio in recent weeks that he would propose cutting in half, from 60 months to 30 months, the time limit for Rhode Island families receiving cash benefits.”That’s two and a half years.

To show he means business, the Gov. Carcieri cut 483 jobs from the state payroll as of Nov. 16.

Want to speak out on these changes? Click on the “Reach out to Your Representatives” How-To.

December 3, 2007 Posted by | Politicking | , , , | Leave a comment

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.

November 26, 2007 Posted by | Busted, Critiques & Critics, Legally Speaking | , , , , , , | 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

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