State lawmakers consider lifting family cap rule on welfare

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BOSTON (WWLP) – Low-income families told 22News that under the current welfare system, they struggle to provide their children’s basic needs, like clothing and food. They’re calling on state lawmakers to support a bill to repeal the family cap rule that denies benefits to children born into families on welfare.

A mother with one child currently receives $478 per month. Lifting the cap would give families with another child another $100 per month, money they said can help provide their children with basic needs.

“$100 additional per month is the difference, sometimes, of feeding your children that day or buying diapers,” Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Sal DiDomenico said. “You cannot break the cycle of poverty if you don’t get a little help when you need it.”

The state’s budget committee is working to allocate funding for next fiscal year.

Some state lawmakers would rather put more money toward job training programs rather than keeping families on the welfare system. “I just don’t want to see these benefits become a trap that people rely on.” Rep Timothy Whelan said. “I believe very strongly in a hand-up not a hand-out.”

Critics argue that some welfare families abuse the system, but one mother told 22News she’s forced to split benefits between two children. “People are not here to stay on the system,” Jessica F. of Campaign to Lift the Cap Off Kids explained. “It’s a stepping stone. I worked 15 years before I actually needed help and I paid 15 years worth of taxes. When I need that help, that’s what I should have.”

Governor Charlie Baker budgeted more than $148-million in aid to families with dependent children, but the budget still has a long way to go before it is finalized.

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