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Newsroom Recently-enacted Welfare Reforms Begin July 1

Several measures signed into law in May, as part of Kansas HOPE Act 2.0, are scheduled to go into effect tomorrow, July 1. Also, a law that prohibits TANF purchases and cash back at points of sale machines outside of Kansas is now being enforced. That measure was enacted as part of the original 2015 Kansas HOPE Act. 

On June 22, 2015, DCF announced the transition plan for welfare reforms. Some initiatives required technical adjustments, including the law that restricts TANF cash from being used at points of sale machines outside of Kansas. On Sunday, June 26, these machines began denying TANF transactions outside of the state. This change is expected to be more noticeable beginning July 1, when benefits become available. 

“We want those who regularly travel to states such as Missouri to be aware of this change, as it could impact where they make their purchases,” said DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore. “More than 95 percent of cash transactions are made at ATMs, among TANF clients, but for the estimated 500 people each month who shop in border communities or access cash back through this method, it will be an adjustment.”

ATM transactions out of state continue to be allowed. Also, this does not impact out of state food purchases using food assistance benefits, in any way. 

Clients have been notified of this change as they apply for TANF. A statement about this policy is included in the online applications and on the review forms. 

Also, as part of the more recent HOPE Act 2.0 law, a new reduction in the TANF lifetime limit goes into effect July 1. The law reduces the limit from 36 months to 24 months. New TANF applicants who have reached the 24-month time limit will not be eligible, as of July 1. Families who have received TANF for 18 or more months as of July 1, 2016 will be granted an extension to continue receiving TANF for a six-month time period, ending Jan. 31, 2017 (if otherwise eligible). The average TANF client uses 16 months of cash assistance over his/her lifetime. Clients may be eligible for a 12-month hardship extension of benefits, based on specific exemptions. 

Also as part of HOPE Act 2.0, beginning tomorrow, lottery winnings in excess of $5,000 by a DCF client will require disclosure to DCF when the agency verifies his/her income and resources. We anticipate the technical crosscheck with the Kansas Lottery will begin this fall. 

Other measures from HOPE Act 2.0 that begin July 1, include: 
Verifying the identity of all cash, food and child care assistance adults in the assistance household. Previously, policy only required verification of the adult applying for the entire household.
Requiring applicants and recipients of cash and child care assistance to cooperate with any fraud investigations. 
Monitoring excessive benefit card replacements, including referrals to DCF’s Anti-fraud Unit.

“The Kansas HOPE Act is the most comprehensive welfare reform in the nation,” Secretary Gilmore said.” Our solution is not as quick as handing someone cash, but our answer to poverty is much more effective. We are breaking the cycle of poverty through employment. It’s good for our clients and it’s good for Kansas taxpayers, who continue to overwhelmingly support welfare-to-work policies.” 

Since Governor Brownback first took office, nearly 40,000 new employments have been reported by Kansans who were on cash assistance.
After Kansas restored work requirements for Able-bodied Adults without Dependent Children, in 2013, nearly 60 percent of those clients who left the program were employed within 12 months, and their incomes increased by an average of almost 130 percent during the first year.
The voluntary employment services program for food assistance clients now has more than 900 volunteer participants. 
According to the latest Kids Count report, 6,000 fewer Kansas children are living in poverty compared to the previous year’s report, below the national average.

(TANF) As of May 2016:
5,409 families were receiving cash assistance (3,108 adults; 9,426 children)
The average monthly benefit to families was $262.24.

(SNAP) As of May 2016
116,158 families were receiving food assistance (135,732 adults; 123,522 children)
The average monthly benefit to families was $253.16.