CAP ON WELFARE BENEFITS FOR KIDS

By Bob Katzen

The Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities held a hearing on and then approved a bill that repeals the current law that denies an additional $100 in welfare benefits to children conceived while – or soon after – the family began receiving the benefits or, if they had received family welfare benefits in the past. The law was adopted in 1995 as part of a welfare reform package that was aimed at discouraging families already receiving public support from having more children.

The Legislature last year sent Gov. Charlie Baker similar legislation that would have lifted the cap on kids, but Baker vetoed the bill in August after the Legislature ended formal sessions for the year and was forfeited the right to override the veto.

Supporters of the repeal said that there are some 8,700 children who currently fall under the cap in the Bay State. These families are barred from receiving an additional $100 a month to help support that child. They said there are no facts to back up the charge that families are having more children in order to get the additional $100.

“We hope that the overwhelming support in the Legislature will help Lift the Cap on Kids very soon so children do not have to wait even longer for a clean diaper or a pair of mittens,” said Deborah Harris of the Mass. Law Reform Institute, one of the lead organizations in the 124-member Coalition to Lift the Cap on Kids.

“The family welfare cap is an archaic and failed policy that only punishes our most vulnerable children born into extreme poverty,” said Rep. Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge). “Over 8,000 children across the commonwealth are denied benefits that would go towards their food and medical care.”

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