SB 0971 Changes Methods of Distribution of Public Assistance
LR Number:S3556.01I Fiscal Note:3556-01
Committee:Public Health and Welfare
Last Action:03/05/96 - Referred S Public Health & Welfare Committee
Effective Date:Contingent
Full Bill Text | All Actions | Senate Home Page | List of 1996 Senate Bills
Current Bill Summary

SB 971 - This act makes the following changes in the public assistance laws:

1. Caps the time limit for the receipt of AFDC payments to 24 months, except in the following situations:

(1) where the child is physically or mentally disabled;

(2) where the child is living with a nonparent caretaker relative;

(3) where the child's parent(s) are deceased;

(4) where the child's parent(s) have a mental, emotional or physical condition which prevents employment; or

(5) where the child is a teen parent attending school.

2. Gives married parents of children receiving AFDC priority over volunteers for participation in the JOBS program.

3. The Department of Social Services shall provide day care vouchers for a period of 1 year for the age appropriate children of any recipient whose benefits have terminated solely because of the 24 month limit for AFDC benefits. The Department is also required to request the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for waivers which would allow the state to use federal savings from the 24 month limit to fund the child care vouchers.

4. Disallows an incremental increase in cash grants to family's currently receiving AFDC for the birth of an additional child. However, the act would allow the Department of Social Services to increase the monthly earned income disregard by an amount equal to that which the family would have received by parenting an additional child.

5. Requires any applicant or recipient of public assistance to notify the Division of Family Services of any conviction for or a guilty plea to any drug law violations which occurred within 2 years of the application for public assistance or any time thereafter.

Benefits will be suspended for a person convicted who fails to notify the Division or if the person does not enroll and successfully complete a drug rehabilitation program approved by the Department of Mental Health.

6. Establishes the "LEARNFARE" program which requires pregnant and parenting teenagers who receive public assistance and who have not completed high school to attend school at least 75% of the time. Cash benefits will be reduced by $50 a month for each month that a pregnant or parenting teenager fails to meet the attendance requirement.

7. Allows for petitions to circuit courts for suspensions or revocations of professional licenses or registrations to practice a profession of those people who are in arears $5,000 or more on their child support payments.

8. Establishes the "People Attaining Self-sufficiency Act" which includes the following provisions:

(1) Creates a nine member Public Assistance Reorganization Task Force. The Task Force will suggest ways to more efficiently implement the public assistance programs offered by the Division of Family Services. The Task Force shall provide an annual report to the General Assembly describing it's recommendations and findings;

(2) Creates a County Welfare Commission and a Self- Sufficiency Development Fund in each county which chooses to implement the self-sufficiency program. The County Commissions shall establish policy for the type, scope, and extent of services for clients and to promote the use of family and community services before public assistance resources are used. The fund is to be made up of federal block grants, public assistance funds and private contributions;

(3) The Division of Family Services will be required to assess AFDC applicants and recipients for possible referral to the county welfare commission for inclusion in the community's local programs to transition people from welfare to work;

(4) Allows the County Welfare Commission to require community service participation as a condition of eligibility for public assistance, certain exemptions are granted from this condition;

(5) Requires the Department of Social Services to provide the staff to implement the self-sufficiency act;

(6) Requires the County Welfare Commission to develop an information clearinghouse concerning the availability of private and public sector resource to assist clients achieve self- sufficiency and to develop programs to increase private resources;

(7) Requires the County Welfare Commission and its employees to maintain the confidentiality of all files and client identifies. Any person or group disclosing clients' names is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor; and

(8) Requires Division of Family Services to provide cash benefits instead of food stamps upon receiving federal approval.

9. Denies public assistance benefits to anyone incarcerated by the state. It would also deny benefits to anyone incarcerated by any city or county in the state who is to be incarcerated for more than 30 days.

10. Creates a Welfare Fraud Reward Fund to reward county offices of the Division of Family Services or local law enforcement agencies which successfully discover and prove a case of fraud involving public assistance benefits;

11. Requires County Division of Family Services Offices to operate a direct job placement program for those persons receiving and applying for public assistance. Sanctions are to be developed by the Department for those persons who refuse to participate in the job placement program.