State Cuts Threaten Afdc Grants In County

637 Could Be Hurt If Welfare Program Is Pared

December 04, 1991|By Cindy Parr | Cindy Parr,Contributing writer

WESTMINSTER — For county social service workers, Susan's situation is all too familiar.

Susan is 22 and has two children. Her husband left her and she quit her secretarial job because she could no longer afford day care for her children.

She moved in with a relative and began receiving $377 a month through the state Aid for Families with Dependent Children program. Susan uses the money to feed and clothe her family and for other expenses.

However the AFDC grants, which go out to about 637 Carroll families like Susan's, would be reduced if a proposed package cuts in state welfare programs is approved.

In an effort to combat the continuing state fiscal crisis, Maryland Department of Human Resources Secretary Carolyn W. Colvin last week proposed a plan to cut at least $21 million from state welfare programs.

In addition to restructuring AFDC, the proposal includes replacing the General Public Assistance Program, and dropping the Emergency Assistance Program.

Aside from saving money, reducing benefits could lead to decreased reliance on welfare, said David Ensor, assistant director of the county's Department of Social Services.

"I think the state is being very brave to come up with such a unique proposal, which is designed to help clientsbecome more self-sufficient and accountable," he said.

As a result of state budget woes, AFDC grants already have been reduced to 1989levels, bringing a monthly grant of $406 for a family of three down to $377.

If the proposed changes are approved, an additional 30 percent would be cut from the AFDC grants as early as July 1, 1992.

That would cut the benefit to $264 a month for a family of three. County administrators say the impact on county recipients would be hard to predict.

"It is very difficult for us to project the specific impact this could have on AFDC families," said Alexander Jones, director of county social services. "While we do not foresee a decrease in AFDC applications in the future, there is the potential for an increase in workload because of the monitoring that will be required."

Under the plan, some AFDC recipients could keep their $377 monthly benefit. They would have to show they are making rent payments on time, and that their children are receiving medical care and attending school. Tracking those requirements will mean more work for county socialworkers, Jones said.

However, recipients that get less money won't see a drop in medical benefits, Jones said. AFDC recipients have medical assistance cards, with which they can get free medical care.

The General Public Assistance program provides grants to those who can't work because of disability for 30 days to six months. The proposed replacement program would offer grants only to those individuals who could prove their inability to work for at least one year. That would affect "very few" people in Carroll, Ensor said.

"At present we have about 50 active GPA cases whose disabilities are 30 days to six months," he said. "Probably 75 percent of our cases fall under one year."

About 50 Carroll families would be affected by a disbandingof the Emergency Assistance Program.

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