TOPEKA -- Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation
Services Secretary Rob Siedlecki today announced reforms in the way the
Department administers the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Child
Care Assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) programs.
“As a result of a thorough review of all benefit programs
administered by SRS, the department is implementing a series of policy reforms
that will take effect October 1, 2011. These reforms will aid in the
Department’s ability to eliminate fraud and abuse, while at the same time
helping recipients of TANF, SNAP and Child Care Assistance move into full-time
employment and achieve self-sufficiency,” Secretary Siedlecki said.
The reforms include:
· All TANF
applicants will be required to participate in a directed job search at the time
of application for benefits. This employment-focused change will help more
individuals find employment before they ever enter the TANF program.
who knowingly and deliberately commit fraud will lose eligibility permanently.
· Families may
now opt to receive a one-time diversion payment of $1,000 to solve emergency
hardship situations and forego entry into TANF program. This will allow families
the ability to take a one-time payment of $1,000 in exchange for not entering
the program for a 12-month period.
· Kansas Vision
Card holders will no longer be allowed to purchase alcohol, tobacco and lottery
tickets with the cash portion of their card.
· The income of
all members of a household will be included in calculating SNAP (Food Stamps)
eligibility. Currently, the income of members of a household who cannot or will
not provide proof of legal U.S. residency is counted only in part (proration),
while that of American citizen households is counted in full. This has resulted
in households with non-citizen members receiving benefits at higher levels than
households comprised entirely of American citizens.
The new policy will result in citizen and non-citizen households income levels
being treated equally, and both types of households in the same circumstances
will receive equal benefits, ending the unequal and discriminatory
policy currently in place.
· To provide
equal treatment to all households, TANF and Child Care Assistance will now
include the income of an unmarried boyfriend/girlfriend as part of a household
in determination of eligibility.
recipients will be required to provide proof of school enrollment for all the
children in the family in order to qualify for cash assistance.
Non-cooperation with TANF work programs and Child Support
Enforcement will result in time-specific forfeiture of benefits. Timing of
forfeiture will be tiered and dependent upon the number of offenses: the first
instance of non-cooperation will result in three months forfeiture, 2nd
non-cooperation, six months, 3rd non-cooperation, one year, and a 4th
non-cooperation will result in 10 years forfeiture. More than half of the states
impose a time-specific forfeiture of benefits for non-compliance. Case
assessments will be performed to ensure that no individuals with incapacities
will receive the penalty.
· To create a
uniform policy that promotes work and helps move individuals towards full-time
employment, Child Care Assistance recipients will be required to be employed a
minimum of 20 hours per week. Students are currently required to work a minimum
of 20 hours per week, and this policy adjustment will bring consistency to the
program. Studies show that the most effective way to lift people out of poverty
is to get them into full-time employment.
· To renew the
emphasis on employment and allow families the opportunity to achieve
self-sufficiency, the lifetime limit for TANF benefits will be reformed to
reflect the original intent of the stopgap program to provide temporary
assistance to families. A soft, 48-month lifetime limit will be imposed. The new
policy will allow for hardship exemptions for those families with extenuating
circumstances that prevent them from finding employment. This new focus will
enable staff to implement a more intensive approach to helping clients find
full-time employment and reach self-sufficiency sooner. Increased agency
assistance in job searches and employment options will help recipients achieve
employment well before they exhaust their allotted lifetime limit.
These reforms will be implemented over the next three months,
and should all be fully in place by January 1, 2012.
“These changes represent a significant change in policy, in
that they treat all households equally, and create fairness across the system,”
said Secretary Siedlecki. “The $10 million to $15 million savings accrued from
these policy changes will go to strengthening and expanding SRS’ employment
programs and getting people to work. Helping people find jobs is our first
priority,” he said.