LANSING, MI – In a major change to rules of those who get welfare assistance in the State of Michigan, some recipients may be required to do community service to satisfy work participation requirements set by the Department of Human Services, which administers the Family Independence Program for temporary cash assistance in Michigan.
Approved in a 91-19 vote in the Republican led house, Senate Bill 276 is working it’s way to Governor Snyder. The Department of Human Services believes the bill will simplify existing policy that makes community service one of several work options an individual can complete as part of a required self-sufficiency plan.
Not all of those on assistance will be required to participate in the program based on age, health status and other factors for each case. Approximately fifty percent of those getting assistance are in an approved work related program. Only about ten percent of the remaining eligible fifty percent did any type of community service last year.
A bill allowing suspicion-based drug testing for some welfare recipients has been tossed about in both the House and Senate but has yet to find approval and consensus. Much of that is based on community leaders fearing that it would unjustly single out and target recipients based just on suspicion and not of any known fact.
The cuts and changes in welfare made since Governor Snyder took office are seen by many as a political assault against the poorest in the state. The state government has been rigidly enforcing both a 48-month lifetime limit for receiving cash welfare benefits and a 60-month federal limit, providing no waivers for families who were struggling to find work.
The flip side to that argument are the taxpayers who want and expect that those who are able bodied should and need to contribute to the communities in which they live by doing community service while receiving cash assistance.
It is expected that further changes will be implemented during 2014.