Category Archives: Human Services

Working Families and Economic Insecurity in the States: The Role of Job Quality and Work Supports

Source: Shawn Fremstad, Rebecca Ray and Hye Jin Rho, Center for Economic and Policy Research, May 2008

From the press release:
The federal poverty line does a poor job of measuring economic insecurity in the United States according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). In the typical state, 22 percent of people in working families suffer from economic hardship because their earnings and income from other sources, including public work supports and other public benefits, fall below the basic needs budget standard for where they live. By comparison, only 12.6 percent of Americans live below the federal poverty line.

Background Material and Data on the Programs within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means, 2008

Source: House Ways and Means Committee, Press release, May 5, 2008

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), today announced the release of the 2008 edition of Background Material and Data on the Programs within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means, informally known as the Green Book. The Green Book provides updated data and information on programs within the Committee’s jurisdiction, such as Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment Compensation, Foster Care and welfare. Additionally, it includes a discussion of related issues, such as the well-being of the elderly and of children and families. Since its first publication in 1981, the Green Book has become a valued reference guide for legislators, administrators, researchers and interested citizens. Upon completion, individual chapters of this volume will be accessible on the Committee’s website.

Recent CRS Reports

Source: Congressional Research Service
• February 26, 2008 – Child Welfare Issues in the 110th Congress
• February 20, 2008 – Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Workers: Current Issues and Legislation
• February 19, 2008 – The Alternative Minimum Tax For Individuals: Legislative Activity in the 110th Congress
• February 14, 2008 – Largest Mergers and Acquisitions by Corporations in 2007

The Quiet Revolution: The President’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative: A Seven-Year Progress Report

Source: White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, February 2008

From the fact sheet:
Today, President Bush participated in a briefing on “The Quiet Revolution” report from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (WHOFBCI). This report offers a portrait of the successful implementation of President Bush’s vision to reshape government’s approach to addressing human need. By leveling the playing field for faith-based charities and strengthening grassroots nonprofits to effectively help Americans in need, the Faith-Based and Community Initiative is having a tremendous impact on countless lives across our Nation and around the world.

Summary of Final TANF Rules: Some Improvements Around the Margins

Source: Liz Schott, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 20, 2008

From the summary:
Overall, the new Final Rule contains some improvements that provide states with some additional flexibility with respect to the activities that can count toward the work participation rate and how states must count and document hours of participation. However, the changes are fundamentally “around the edges” and do not address some of the core concerns that states and others had raised with respect to the Interim Final Rule. The marginal improvements include:

• The Final Rule expanded the circumstances under which a person with a severe disability (applying for or receiving SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance) or a person caring for a disabled family member could be excluded from the work participation rate calculation;

• The Final Rule includes a number of changes that will make it easier for states to get credit toward the work rates when an individual participates in post-secondary education; and

• The Final Rule includes greater flexibility in counting hours of participation with respect to excused absences and participation in job search or job readiness activities.

Moreover, the new Final Rule contains one significant and new restriction on how states can spend their “maintenance of effort” funds — the state funds they must spend to qualify for federal TANF funds. In our view, this new restriction is contrary to the clear language of the statute and to Congressional intent.

This paper summarizes the key concerns that we and other commenters raised about the Interim Final Rules and describes the extent to which HHS made changes in response to these concerns in the Final Rule. The report also highlights the changed regulatory provisions.

President’s Budget Would Cut Deeply Into Important Public Services and Adversely Affect States

Source: Sharon Parrott, Kris Cox, Danilo Trisi, and Douglas Rice, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 20, 2008

The President’s 2009 budget would provide some $20.5 billion less for domestic discretionary programs outside of homeland security — a broad category of programs that includes everything from child care to environmental protection to medical research — than the 2008 level, adjusted for inflation.

The budget calls for reductions in a broad range of services, including some areas that have seen sizable cuts in recent years. For example, the budget would cut child care, environmental protection, and job training — all areas for which funding in 2008 is well below funding earlier in the decade, after adjusting for inflation.

State tables

Federal Jobless Benefits Will Stimulate the Economy While Helping Over Three Million Jobless Families Who Will Run Out of State Benefits This Year

Source: Maurice Emsellem and Omar Semidey, National Employment Law Project, February 12, 2008

Working families are bracing for major layoffs amid growing signs that the nation may be heading toward a serious recession. Despite their compelling concerns and strong evidence that federal jobless benefits will immediately stimulate the economy, the U.S. Senate recently came one vote short of the 60 votes needed to pass an economic stimulus package (Economic Stimulus Act of 2008) that included a 13-week federal extension of unemployment benefits. That leaves an estimated three million workers without any additional federal support when they run out of their 26 weeks of state jobless benefits this year.

Now, the attention shifts to Congressional efforts to promptly enact separate legislation to extend federal jobless benefits to help boost the economy. This paper makes the case for an immediate extension of jobless benefits and federal reforms to modernize the unemployment insurance program. It provides new state estimates of the number of workers who will exhaust their state unemployment benefits this year as well as a rebuttal to the argument of Bush Administration officials that unemployment has not reached high enough levels compared to prior recessions to justify an extension of jobless benefits. Underscoring the harshness of the downturn on long-established workers and the consequences of inaction by Congress for moderate-income families, the paper also finds that the unemployed include a disproportionately large number of older workers who are looking for work for longer periods of time in today’s struggling economy.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Program and Funding

Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Council for Science and the Environment)

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP), established in 1981 (P.L. 97-35), is a block grant program under which the federal government gives states, territories, and tribes annual grants to operate home energy assistance programs for low-income households. The LIHEAP statute authorizes two types of funds: regular funds, which are allocated to all states using a statutory formula, and contingency funds, which are allocated to one or more states at the discretion of the Administration.

Full Report (PDF; 144 KB)

Bridging the Gaps: A Picture of How Work Supports Work in Ten States

Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research

From press release:
Low wages, inadequate benefits, and limited work supports leave one-in-five people (nearly 41 million) in working families struggling to make ends meet. According to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC, and the Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. According to the report, many workers are in jobs that do not provide health insurance or enough earnings to cover basic expenditures but earn too much to qualify for work supports such as Medicaid and Food Stamps. While common to higher-wage workers, employment-based benefits, like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off, are not available to most low- and many moderate-wage workers. Public work supports, however, can help fill in these gaps.

+ National Report (PDF; 1.3 MB)
+ Technical Report (PDF; 1.1 MB)
+ Presentation (PDF; 30 KB)
+ Podcast

From: Docuticker