Vote hurts vulnerable kids

July 13, 2011
Contact: Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436

Statement from Michigan League for Human Services President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs on 48-month time limits, House Bills 4409-4410, passing the Senate today.

“It is wrong to take away support from an estimated 25,000 children in our state at a time when unemployment remains very high. We need to be lifting up, not pushing down, families trying to work their way toward self sufficiency.

Under this legislation, Michigan will have the harshest time limits on cash assistance in the Midwest. Most other surrounding states have a 60-month lifetime limit. Only Indiana has a 24-month limit, but it does not apply to children. If families reach the 24-month limit in Indiana, only the cash assistance portion for the parents will be ended. Michigan’s legislation will punish children in the affected 12,600 families.

There were no hearings on the bills in the Senate. It’s callous and disappointing that the Senate would, without a hearing, pass legislation that has such far-reaching consequences for constituents.

The Senate-passed version does allow the Department of Human Services to stop the clock from ticking for those who cannot work or look for work while caring for a disabled spouse or child. This is a positive change from the House-passed version. It recognizes the difficulty families face while caring for a loved one.

The legislation does, however, eliminate common-sense exemptions to the 48 months for parents who are complying with their self-sufficiency plans.

Michigan has the fifth-highest unemployment in the country, and had the highest rate for four years running. Now is not the time to abruptly end support for the most vulnerable children in our state who will be the victims of these policy changes.”