KANSAS CITY STAR: New Kansas welfare law doesn’t conflict with federal rules, state officials say

By Edward M. Eveld
September 8, 2015

A review of Kansas’ new welfare law shows no clash with federal regulations governing state child care programs, state officials said Tuesday.

“We do not believe there’s a conflict, and federal officials have not indicated there’s a problem,” said Sandra Kimmons, economic and employment services director of the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

A child advocacy group recently raised concerns that several aspects of the HOPE Act, a welfare reform law approved by the Legislature last session, could collide with federal rules.

The state in recent weeks had to drop one much-maligned feature of the legislation, a $25-a-day limit on ATM withdrawals for those with cash assistance cards, because of objections by federal officials.

Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children, warned that certain state work requirements for parents and subsidy cutoffs for noncompliance might not comport with federal guidelines that would take effect next year with the program’s reauthorization.

Despite the comments from state officials, Cotsoradis maintained Tuesday that parts of the state’s welfare law could conflict with federal rules that eligible children receive continuous subsidies for a 12-month period.

“This isn’t about demonizing the HOPE Act,” Cotsoradis said “We raised a red flag. We’re hopeful the agency would carefully scrutinize the HOPE Act to ensure there are no surprises for Kansas families and children.”

Department officials are devising the state’s plan for reauthorization of the child care development block grant, which brings more than $40 million in federal funds to Kansas for early childhood development and child care services, including subsidies for child care. They met with care providers and advocacy groups in Topeka on Tuesday to form “working groups” to assist in the effort.

The state plan will be available in January, and a public hearing is scheduled for February. An average of more than 12,000 children a month are covered by child care subsidies in Kansas.

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