TOPEKA – A new report from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), focuses on welfare reforms in Kansas and how they have positively impacted low-income residents who previously relied on food assistance. Among some of the findings, before work requirements, 93 percent of able-bodied adults without dependent children (ABAWDs) on welfare were in poverty. Most were in severe poverty and not working at all. Within one year of leaving welfare, their incomes had more than doubled, an increase of 127 percent on average.
“Our staff worked closely with FGA to supply data,” said Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Phyllis Gilmore. “We are pleased to see the information shared turned into a meaningful report that demonstrates for Kansas and the rest of the nation that employment is the most effective path out of poverty. And our reforms, led by Governor Sam Brownback, are empowering Kansans to achieve self-reliance.”
In September 2013, Kansas announced, as one of few states at the time, that it would allow a federal waiver to expire that made it possible for able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 to receive food assistance with no work requirement. Since Kansas made that important decision, other states have followed our lead.
Additionally, in 2015, Governor Brownback signed into law the most comprehensive welfare reform in the nation that not only added permanency to existing work requirements, but also added additional regulations to strengthen the integrity of the welfare benefits system in Kansas.
FGA found these reforms to be fiscally responsible for taxpayers. They also showed the reforms to offer Kansans previously locked into dependence on government-funded programs, a way out of poverty.
“The Kansas data clearly shows the best way to help able-bodied adults who are trapped in welfare is to get them back to work as quickly as possible,” said Johnathan Ingram, FGA Vice President of Research. “The more time people spend on welfare, the harder it is for them to get a job. But once they get back to work, their earnings skyrocket and they create a better life for themselves than welfare ever could. To policymakers who want to lift Americans out of the poverty trap—Kansas has shown you the way.”