Maryland Alliance for the Poor
Children and Families
The federal welfare reform law, PRWORA (Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act) was signed into law in August 1996, while
· There is a 5-year, 60-month cumulative lifetime limit on the receipt of cash assistance for families headed by an adult parent, with some exceptions to the time limit.
· Since welfare reform was inaugurated, there has been almost a 74% drop in the caseload.
· Children now comprise nearly three-quarters (75%) of the caseload.
· Customers apply for cash assistance (Temporary Cash Assistance — TCA) and other benefits, with receipt of the benefits based on various eligibility rules.
· To receive TCA, adults must cooperate with Child Support and are screened for substance abuse and domestic violence issues.
· Requirements for cash assistance include the adult participating in work activities for 40 hours per week.
· A family sanctioned because of not following the work rules loses all cash assistance.
· The maximum monthly TCA cash grant for a family of three is $490.
· When $399 worth of Food Stamps is added to the TCA grant, the total family income is $889 per month, $628 below
· Adults in families leaving welfare for work are eligible for 1-year of Transitional Medical Assistance; afterwards children in the household are likely eligible for MCHP, the State’s health insurance program for children in households with income up to 300% of the FPL ($48,270 a year for a family of three). Some households pay a
· When a family moves from welfare to work they may be eligible for other benefits, such as Food Stamps and child care vouchers.
Gaps and Challenges
o The law requires that families receive substantive assessments to determine their strengths and barriers.
o Additional services such a literacy programs, substance abuse treatment, mental health services, job coaching, supportive employment and retention strategies are needed to help even more families exit welfare.
o Strategies must be developed to help more families retain employment, climb a career ladder and increase their income.
o Examples to help families increase their income and accumulate assets include the EITC, the Earned Income Disregard, and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
o Cross-training among local agencies (housing, health, social services, workforce investment boards, etc.) as well as community-based organizations will help a wide range of staff better understand an array of potential benefits — many of which would bring federal dollars into the State’s economy.
o More must be done to assure families receive all benefits to which they are eligible to help reduce the chance of recidivism.
o There must be greater emphasis on healthcare for adults, safe, accessible and affordable housing opportunities, sufficient child care vouchers, and transportation options. These are essential elements for families to meet their basic human needs.
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