BOSTON (WWLP) – The Lift Our Kids Coalition joined with state lawmakers Thursday to advocate for low income families. The legislation, The Act to Lift Kids Out of Deep Poverty, would help those receiving cash assistance.
Cash assistance levels were stagnant for decades, but in January of 2021, the legislature raised grants three times by 10% or less. Currently, the maximum Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children for a family of three is only $783 a month. The coalition’s goal is to increase the maximum cash assistance grant by 25% until it reaches half of the federal poverty line, which is 1,036 dollars a month.
Chicopee Representative Shirley Arriaga spoke about her experience as an educator at Chicopee high school, witnessing students in poverty. “We all know in this room that financial burdens are heavy, but it weighs heaviest on our children, our students. Believe it or not, they’re aware of what’s going on at home and that carries into the classroom. Instead of being there and focusing, harnessing their new skills, and dreaming of possibilities of tomorrow, they’re worried, they know that their families are struggling,” remarked Arriaga.
In the Commonwealth, 39,000 families with children and 28,000 elders and people with disabilities are having a tough time making ends meet on cash assistance benefits. Those living below half the poverty line are considered to be in Deep Poverty and with this legislation, grants would reach the deep poverty by July of 2024.
These two bills have over 20 co-sponsors in the House and Senate and the cost of these bills would be around $100 million, depending on case load.