Kansas lawmakers question effects of welfare reduction
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some Kansas lawmakers are questioning the impact of recent welfare policies after new data showed a growing number of people ineligible for cash assistance.
The joint Legislative Budget Committee was briefed Wednesday on the new consensus revenue estimates, as well as new estimates about the cost of social services like Medicaid, foster care and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, commonly known as “cash assistance,” the Lawrence Journal-World reported .
The numbers from the Department for Children and Families estimate that nearly 44,000 people have become ineligible for cash assistance under those policies.
Several committee members said thousands of people have been coming off the cash assistance program each year since 2013 while the number of foster care children has been climbing to record levels. Separate numbers released Wednesday show Kansas has more than 6,000 children in foster care, and officials expect that number to climb for the next two fiscal years. Some lawmakers think the two trends are linked.
“Because the pressure we put on those families when we take away cash assistance, the ability to feed themselves, feed their kids, just intensifies in a household and makes it more difficult to preserve that family,” said Sen. Laura Kelly, a Democrat from Topeka. “Thus, more kids go into foster care. I can’t prove that. But it’s interesting how we’ve had this massive influx of kids into our foster care system at the same time that we’re reducing public assistance.”
Rep. Troy Waymaster, a Republican from Bunker Hill, believed critics are jumping to conclusions.
“I don’t think there’s a correlation between the two,” he said. “Obviously the welfare reforms that we did a couple of years ago were needed, and we wanted to have some type of resolution as to not having individuals chronically on welfare. I don’t think there’s a correlation between the two that the representative is trying to make.”
Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com