CA welfare state wants more ‘clients’

March 22, 2013

By Katy Grimes

poverty_jpg_475x310_q85The Employment Development Department used to be called the “Unemployment Department.” And state welfare recipients are now “clients.”

The majority party in the California Legislature appears determined on expanding social services in the state despite evidence demonstrating that the programs don’t necessarily improve lives, as the very mixed record of the 50-year federal “War on Poverty” confirms. While discussing the need for “safety net” programs for the poorest in the state, legislators always cast a wider net than necessary.

The Assembly held a committee hearing Wednesday about expanding mandatory universal government preschool in California. By Thursday, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee was focused on the CalWORKS program, and how to attract more “clients.” Expansion of the state’s Health and Human Services agency is an obvious goal.

CA has nation’s worst poverty rate

This push to expand government aid programs has as a backdrop California’s poverty rate of 23.5 percent — the highest in the nation and much higher than the national average of 16.1 percent. The U.S. Census Bureau said the high poverty rate was driven in part by California’s high cost of living, which is never a focus of the Legislature.

The stated goal of Thursday’s Senate hearing was to get  several questions answered, including “What does evidence indicate can help families avoid the negative consequences of poverty?”

The challenges of stress are made worse by poverty, according to Sarah Bohn of the Public Policy Institute of California and Ann Stevens, the director of UC Davis Center on Poverty Research.

Stevens said the well-known correlation between poverty in childhood and long-term effects mean poverty later in life, poor health and low educational achievement.

Subsidies for poor advocated, and more of them

“Constant stress is worse in poor people,” said Stevens. “Unobserved things in families in poverty lead to other bad outcomes.”

“Persistent poverty creates chronic stress for children,” Stevens added.

Stevens and Bohn advocated for subsidies for the poor, and for longer periods of time.

“A strong case can be made for reducing material deprivation,” Stevens said. “There’s growing credible evidence to support this.”

But both Stevens and Bohn also advocated for universal mandatory preschool. “There’s growing evidence to support intervention in early childhood and preschool,” Stevens said. She added this is crucial to break the cycle of poverty. “It’s not a trade-off,” said Stevens.

On welfare, mixed messages from Washington

Meanwhile, the federal government is sending out mixed messages. Under President Obama, one form of welfare has exponentially increased since he first took office in 2009. His administration, however, is also pressuring California to limit another type of welfare.

SNAP“When Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, the number of Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) recipients was 31,939,110. By October 2012, the latest month reported, they had jumped to 47,525,329,” CNS News reported. “That means the food stamp program grew by approximately 11,133 recipients per day from January 2009 to October 2012.” SNAP used to be known as the Food Stamp program.

CNS News also reported, “[F]ederal spending on SNAP has increased every fiscal year that Obama has been in office. In FY 2009 — when SNAP was still known as the ‘Food Stamp’ program — the government spent $55.6 billion. According to an April 2012 report from the Congressional Budget Office, SNAP enrollment increased by 70 percent between 2007 and 2011.”

In California, spending on such programs is going up. But the Brown administration is also trying to implement some of the welfare reforms seen in other states — because of federal pressure.

“The Governor’s budget proposes $20.3 billion from the General Fund for health programs—a 3.4 percent increase over 2012-13 estimated expenditures—and $8 billion from the General Fund for human services programs—a 7.9 percent increase over 2012-13 estimated expenditures,” the Legislative Analyst’s Office wrote in its 2013-14 “Analysis of the Health and Human Services Budget.”

CalWorksTextRecent changes to the CalWORKs program include a phase-out of exemptions from welfare-to-work requirements, and the introduction of a new 24-month limit on adult eligibility in the program.

Existing law requires each California county to provide cash assistance and other social services to needy families through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids program. CalWORKs uses funds from the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grant program, as well as state and county funds.

Reforms prompted by federal pressure

As a condition of the federal grant, the federal government requires states to meet work requirements. But California has been in violation of this rule, and was notified the state will be assessed penalties of $160 million by the federal government. This is just for 2008 and 2009. There is no word yet if California will be penalized for 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The state claims to have a plan to remedy this, but not by requiring CalWORKS recipients to get to work.

“Planned state actions are projected to increase the state’s work participation rate by (1) increasing the number of countable cases that meet the federal work requirement through the work Incentive Nutritional Suppliment program, and (2) removing from the work participation requirement calculation certain CalWORKS cases that do not meet the federal work requirement,” the LAO reported.

The LAO estimates that California “may be compliant with the requirement by 2015.”

CalWORKS recipients are required to work 20, 30, or 35 hours per week, depending on family composition. California allows CalWORKS recipients to substitute mental health and substance abuse programs for work.

CalWORKS reductions may be reversed

California has made $700 million in reductions to the CalWORKS program since 2009. But now, the Legislature is actively pushing to expand the program.

SB 1041, passed in 2012, authorized the changes to the CalWORKS program, but only through 2012.

20 comments

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  1. Sean Morham
    Sean Morham 22 March, 2013, 12:57

    Perhaps the recepients will eventually be classified as employees and have Union dues deducted each time they use SNAP. Wow, retirement from public assistance can t be far off. Wonder if they will get the 2 1/2 percent formula to calculate pensions. Hey Backdoor Johnnie, here is a bill for you to increase union membership, dues collected.

    Reply this comment
  2. Paul
    Paul 22 March, 2013, 13:36

    Communism at it’s finest….”Kommiefornia”

    Reply this comment
  3. us citizen
    us citizen 22 March, 2013, 13:38

    The reason this state is so high on the welfare/food stamp/poverty list is because most of the ILLEGALS are on the take here! Why wont anyone address that problem because it is a BIGGY. Send the interlopers HOME and get them out of here.

    Reply this comment
  4. Douglas
    Douglas 22 March, 2013, 15:06

    At the local mom and pop grocery, the whole family works hard to keep the store going. Many times when we are alone in the store, I hear them talking about all the people shopping at the store who use food stamps. Getting something for nothing while the owners family works so hard for what they have.

    I wonder if he realizes what his business would be like without SNAP?

    LET THEM EAT CAKE!!!

    Reply this comment
  5. Douglas
    Douglas 22 March, 2013, 15:22

    “The reason this state is so high on the welfare/food stamp/poverty list”

    According to the US Census Bureau, California has about 12% of the nations population AND about 12% of the nations welfare COST.

    The “official” poverty rate for California is 16.3%. The national rate is 16.1%.

    The 23.5% mentioned in the article is the “supplemental poverty measure” which considers cost of living differences and other factors.

    Reply this comment
  6. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 22 March, 2013, 16:41

    If companies and large pig corporations like Walmart would pay a fair wage to the workers then i’m sure these stats would go down!! Than god for the unions we still have around standing up to fight for the poor and middle class!!!

    Reply this comment
  7. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 22 March, 2013, 16:47

    Many fat hog big profit corporations use taxpayer dollars to supplement their payrolls, voters should be outraged. WalMart posted profits of $15.4 billion in 2012, and it enriched 6 WalMart heirs and heiresses whose combined worth is greater than the bottom 41% of American families. WalMart’s profits come from paying employees below poverty level wages, and to keep WalMart associates from going hungry and falling ill, taxpayers provided food stamps and Medicaid to make up the difference. Because WalMart and private sector pigs like them pay their employees slave wages, workers are forced to rely on food stamps and Medicaid which is how they siphon money from taxpayers!!!!!! Uhmmm, where is the story on this abuse CWD?????

    Reply this comment
  8. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 22 March, 2013, 16:48

    LIVE BETTER,WORK UNION!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  9. Bill - San Jose
    Bill - San Jose 22 March, 2013, 17:45

    NTHEOC has a few good points … in the Soviet Union.

    Communism is ugly, isn’t it?

    Next topic that shows how to improve the quality of life by not allowing illiterate immigration to overrun your state.

    Reply this comment
  10. us citizen
    us citizen 22 March, 2013, 19:25

    Walmart is not in the business to pay people what they THINK they should be paid. Their allegiance is to make a profit. If you dont like what they do, or what they pay, then you have a choice not to work there. There are many ENTRY level jobs that you take, but can not live on. There are many part time jobs. Not ONE business owes you a living.

    Reply this comment
  11. BobA
    BobA 22 March, 2013, 19:38

    Bill – San Jose:

    NTHEOC is a communist sympathizer who pines for the days of the old Soviet state communism. “Unionists” loathe the idea of free markets and private enterprise and would prefer a totalitarian state where the government owned and run everything.

    They would gladly sacrifice the US constitution and theirs and everyone else’s liberty & freedom for the hollow security of a union job.

    Alas, it doesn’t matter though. Totalitarianism is coming sooner than we think. When that day comes, I’m sure the unionists will line the streets cheering the North Koren dictator as he triumphantly motorcade’s through the streets of Washington DC. on his way to the white house to advice the America president for life on the finer points of dictatorship and repression.

    Reply this comment
  12. eck
    eck 22 March, 2013, 19:55

    “there’s (still) a problem!!” “Send money!!” Geez, enough already

    Reply this comment
  13. eck
    eck 22 March, 2013, 19:56

    Excuse me, I meant, “send more and more money!!”

    Reply this comment
  14. Donkey
    Donkey 22 March, 2013, 21:46

    Our social programs don’t promote ambition, pride and independence, they encourage self-pity, dependence and apathy. A criminal government that can’t even understand the simplicity of a balanced-budget promotes irresponsibility in the populace. We are told to spend whatever money we have to “stimulate the economy” and then we wring our hands when senior citizen’s don’t have enough money to support themselves for a year in retirement. Our sacrosanct “entitlements” and “safety nets” overflow with waste, fraud, abuse and corruption. And we wonder why things are so bad.

    Ntheoc, you are the poster child for a trough feeding RAGWUS fool!! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  15. stolson
    stolson 23 March, 2013, 15:40

    There are a few issues here. One, there is little to no incentive for someone to go to work as they can take in 17K a year on combined programs from the welfare dept. They also can work under the table as gardners, hairdressers, house cleaners, home businesses, and not be detected in the welfare system’s database for this. They can be married, but the wife can claim single with children and not get caught. There are ways for them to purchase aliases and phoney ID’s. It also isn’t noted that these same povery ridden people send money back to their home country.
    What a life.

    Reply this comment
  16. RT
    RT 23 March, 2013, 20:51

    CalWORKs should be called “CalHandout”. The program is not about helping clients get work, “welfare to work” allows the majority of clients to do nothing and get a check. No one cares because of the millions of taxpayer dollars that are pumped into Counties by CalWORKS.
    Sad just sad.

    Reply this comment
  17. MIke H
    MIke H 24 March, 2013, 16:10

    RT is correct. Welfare to work does allow the majority of clients to do nothing and get a check. As someone that works in CalWORKs for a County, I know that the State just wants us to keep handing out $$$$. When we ask for tougher requirements, the State gives clients new ways to not be asked to find work. It is time to re-write CalWORKs and make it abot finding work. Too bad that will never happen here in “Califoryouia”.

    Reply this comment
  18. stolson
    stolson 25 March, 2013, 06:34

    Mike H: Perhaps as an anonymous informer, you could write all this up and distribute to state offices of our US Congresscritters. At least, it will be informative as I am sure other states have the same approach.
    I found out that there are so many employees hired by counties to handle welfare to work jobs: Employment specialists from I to III, Employment Counselors from I to III, Food Assistance Employment Counselors to Senior level, WIC employment counselors and the County Employment grp (big name can’t remember) that helps unemployed with research, computer usage, free faxing, resume assistance, etc. This is an enormous outlay of money — and they then find ways to give “Clients” ways to get around actual work, combined with those who have no incentive to work as they do better on the various amts from the many services! So, it appears there is an army of well paid employees out there to handle the 10 people per county who really seek work???

    Reply this comment
  19. BobA
    BobA 25 March, 2013, 07:59

    Mike H, stolson:

    It’s called wealth redistribution. It is a nefarious plan to equalize poverty and inculcate dependence rather than independence. Once people are totally dependent on government for their existence they will perpetually vote for who ever gives them the most stuff. The consequences of this are insidious in nature and is an invitation to totalitarianism.

    If one person has a right to something he didn’t produce, simultaneously and of necessity it means that some other person does not have right to something he did produce. That’s because, since there’s no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy, in order for government to give one American a dollar, it must, through intimidation, threats and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American.

    Reply this comment
  20. Queeg
    Queeg 26 March, 2013, 21:11

    Where is the Poodle?

    Reply this comment

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