Date: Friday, Aug. 16, 1996
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Kharfen, (202) 401-9215
HHS APPROVES AMENDMENTS TO MARYLAND WELFARE DEMONSTRATION
HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala today announced approval of amendments to Maryland's Family Investment Program (FIP), originally approved for Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties in August 1995. These amendments expand most FIP provisions statewide and add a number of new provisions to encourage work and aid the transition to self-sufficiency. This is the second waiver application for Maryland and the 71st state demonstration approved under the Clinton Administration.
"As President Clinton prepares to sign historic welfare reform legislation that fulfills his principles of requiring work and promoting parental responsibility, he also continues his commitment to state flexibility," said Secretary Shalala. "Gov. Glendening's waiver builds on Maryland's promising demonstration and lays a strong foundation for its new welfare program."
Original provisions, which now apply statewide, include requiring able-bodied applicants for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) to participate in job search as a condition of eligibility, with some exceptions. Full-family sanctions may be imposed for failing to cooperate with JOBS requirements, and JOBS services will be available to non-custodial parents unable to pay child support.
Resource limits will be increased, and earned income of dependent children will be disregarded. Benefits will be provided for children age 18 and 19 who are full-time secondary school students, and a parent will be able to work more than 100 hours a month and retain eligibility. Families facing a short-term financial crisis will be able to receive a one-time payment to meet immediate needs rather than applying for AFDC.
Under new statewide provisions, case managers can certify AFDC benefits for up to one year, based on individual circumstances, and must re-establish eligibility before the certification period ends. Twenty percent of earned income and 50 percent of self-employment income will not be counted in figuring eligibility. Mothers will not be exempt from JOBS participation because of pregnancy, unless a doctor provides a medical exemption.
The state will retain all child support payments. Failure to cooperate with child support enforcement requirements can result in the entire family being ineligible for cash assistance and the adult being ineligible for Medicaid. Conviction of fraud by any member of the family will also result in the entire family being ineligible for cash assistance.
"With these amendments, Maryland continues to move closer to ending welfare as we know it," said Mary Jo Bane, assistant secretary for children and families. "More Maryland families will now have a new opportunity to achieve self-sufficiency."
The JOBS program, created by the Family Support Act in 1988, requires non-exempt AFDC recipients to participate in job readiness activities.
FIP will operate until Dec. 31, 1999, and include a rigorous evaluation.
Under the welfare reform bill passed by Congress, states that have waivers approved prior to the law's enactment generally may continue their waivers even when they conflict with the legislation.