May 17, 2016

Governor Sam Brownback has signed a bill tightening welfare rules in Kansas. The so-called HOPE Act reduces the total amount of time families may receive benefits in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program from 36 months to 24 months. The state can add another 12 months to the limit for certain hardships.

Brownback says the goal is getting people off assistance programs and back into jobs.

“This is encouraging people to get back in the workforce on a sooner basis so the deterioration of those work skills doesn’t continue to happen,” Brownback said. “The longer you’re out of the workforce, the harder it is to get back in the workforce. Part of our encouraging people to get back in the workforce is that’s the best solution for people to be able to get out of poverty.”

Shannon Cotsoradis, with the group Kansas Action for Children, says families often rely on these benefits when they’re hit with a challenge like a job loss or medical crises. She says a shorter limit on benefits can mean doing without the basics.

“We’re talking about things like shelter, food, clothing, shoes for their children’s feet, diapers,” Cotsoradis said. “This isn’t about the more robust needs of children, it’s about the most basic needs of children.”

The Kansas Department for Children and Families says it estimates more than 400 households will hit the newly-instituted 24-month limit on benefits in the next year.

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