Category Archives: Human Services

Human Service Worker Safety: a View From the Top

Source: Mark Washington, Policy and Practice, Vol. 66 no. 2, June 2008

Kentucky had developed an incident reporting system that replaced the outdated paper method of recording incidents and verbal or physical threats of violence by clients. The new system enables staff at all levels to review the incident and diagnose the leading causes.

Violence Against Workers: a Shortcoming in Public Human Services

Source: Stephen R. Fox, Donna Harmon, Policy and Practice, Vol. 66 no. 2, June 2008

There is no national repository of data about violence against human service workers. Yet this issue touches on the single, most overwhelmingly, deeply personal tragedy of life. In this case, the violence includes the killing of those who serve by those who are served.

Displaced Workers and Their Search for Support in a Broken Bureaucracy

Source: Steven D. Schwinn, Clearinghouse Review Journal of Poverty Law and Policy, Vol. 42, p. 107, July-August 2008

From the abstract:
The federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs provide cash benefits and job retraining to workers and farmers who have been displaced by the off-shoring of U.S. jobs, falling prices resulting from increased imports, and other consequences of international trade. But workers and farmers have been seriously hampered in their attempts to gain TAA benefits by persistent and pervasive mismanagement of the TAA programs by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This article describes some of the problems that workers and farmers have faced in applying for and receiving TAA benefits. While legislative changes may address some of these problems, the article argues that legal counsel for workers and farmers is a necessary component of any plan to ensure that TAA benefits reach those they were designed to help.

The 12th Anniversary of Welfare Reform: What Do We Know About Time Limits?

Source: MDRC, August 15, 2008

This month marks the 12th anniversary of the federal welfare reform law, a turning point in the political debate about shifting public assistance toward a system of temporary support with a focus on moving recipients into work. One of the most controversial features of the law was the imposition of time limits on benefit receipt. What have we learned about the effects of time limits since then?
See also:
Welfare Time Limits: An Update on State Policies, Implementation, and Effects on Families
Source: Mary Farrell, Sarah Rich, Lesley Turner, David Seith, and Dan Bloom, MDRC, April 2008

The Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration

Source: Susan J. Popkin, Brett Theodos, Caterina Gouvis Roman, Elizabeth Guernsey, Urban Institute, July 8, 2008

From the abstract:
The Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration is an innovative initiative designed to meet the challenges of serving the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) “hard to house”; residents. It involves a unique partnership of city agencies, service providers, researchers, and private foundations, all with a deep commitment to finding solutions for the most vulnerable families affected by the CHA’s Plan for Transformation. The rigorous evaluation allows for continuous learning and mid-course corrections, and helped the team develop a validated model that other housing authorities can use. This report highlights the lessons learned during the first year implementation of the Demonstration.
See also:
The Experiences of Public Housing Agencies That Established Time Limits Policies Under the MTW Demonstration
A Study of Closing Costs for FHA Mortgages
Foreclosures in the District of Columbia

Social Scientists Recommend New Safety Net for Low-Income Families

Source: Urban Institute, Press release, July 16, 2008

One-third of families with children, 13.7 million households, struggle to cover the everyday costs of living but don’t always succeed. Yet, four in five of these low-income families, whose incomes are less than twice the federal poverty level, include working adults.

Some families receive food stamps, child care subsidies, tax credits, and other government work supports, but these programs either offer too little or go to too few of those in need. At the same time, wages for low-income workers have generally stagnated over the past two decades, rainy-day saving is difficult at best, employer-sponsored health insurance is growing scarcer, and unemployment insurance is limited or unavailable.

Implementing New Changes to the Food Stamp Program: A Provision Analysis of the 2008 Farm Bill

Source: Stacy Dean, Colleen Pawling, and Dottie Rosenbaum, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 1, 2008

From the summary:
The 2008 Farm Bill makes numerous improvements to the Food Stamp Program that will help low-income Americans put food on the table in the face of rising food and fuel prices.[1] Over the 2009-2017 period, the Farm Bill will add $7.8 billion in new resources for the program, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The major food stamp provisions will:

• End years of erosion in the purchasing power of food stamps by raising and indexing for inflation the program’s standard deduction and minimum benefit. These changes will help about 11 million low-income people, including families with children, seniors, and people with disabilities. With these changes, food stamp rules will fully account for annual inflation for the first time since the program’s creation over 40 years ago, and food stamp households will stop losing food purchasing power each year.
• Support working-poor families by eliminating the cap on the dependent care deduction, reducing the chances that families will have to forgo food to pay for decent and safe child care.
• Promote saving by improving the program’s resource limits and excluding tax-preferred retirement accounts and education accounts from those limits.
• Simplify food stamp administration for participants and states by building on successful initiatives from the last (2002) Farm Bill.
• Rename and update the program, which will be called the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” (SNAP); food stamp coupons will be eliminated.
• Strengthen program operations, integrity, and oversight and modernize benefit delivery, for example by creating a state option for telephonic applications and by improving oversight of state modernization efforts.

Youth Transitioning From Foster Care: Background, Federal Programs, and Issues for Congress

Source: Congressional Research Service, Order Code RL34499, May 21, 2008

From the summary:
Nearly half of states have laws that explicitly permit the state child welfare system to continue providing foster care for children beyond the age of majority (usually no later than 19). However, the number of states that actually facilitate youth remaining in care beyond their 18th or 19th birthdays is significantly smaller. Over 20,000 young people have been emancipated from foster care annually from FY2002 through FY2006. While most young people have access to emotional and financial support systems throughout their early adult years, older youth in care and those who age out of care often face obstacles to developing independent living skills and building supports that ease the transition to adulthood. Older foster youth who return to their parents or guardians may continue to experience poor family dynamics or a lack of emotional and financial supports, and studies have shown that recently emancipated foster youth fare poorly relative to their counterparts in the general population on several outcome measures.

Implementing New Changes to the Food Stamp Program: A Provision By Provision Analysis of The 2008 Farm Bill

Source: Stacy Dean, Colleen Pawling, Dorothy Rosenbaum, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 1, 2008

From the summary:
The 2008 Farm Bill makes numerous improvements to the Food Stamp Program that will help low-income Americans put food on the table in the face of rising food and fuel prices. Over the 2009-2017 period, the Farm Bill will add $7.8 billion in new resources for the program, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The major food stamp provisions will:

• End years of erosion in the purchasing power of food stamps
• Support working-poor families.
• Promote saving
• Simplify food stamp administration
• Rename and update the program
• Strengthen program operations, integrity, and oversight and modernize benefit delivery

Finding Relatives for Children

Source: Nina Williams-Mbengue, National Conference of State Legislatures, LegisBrief, Vol. 16, no. 28, June/July 2008
(subscription required)

State child welfare agencies increasingly rely on placing children whose parents cannot or will not assume responsibility for them with grandparents and other relatives. These placements can improve stability for children, and state and federal policies give preference for placing children with relatives. Policymakers can support over-burdened state agencies by crafting legislation and recommending initiatives that help states to better identify and recruit relatives and other caring adults to provide for a child’s safety, well-being and permanency.