E.B.T. and @CapitalOneCafe ATMs

If you dont like banks, or getting dressed up,  and prefer working digitally with little human interaction, then you might be banking at @CapitalOne. I do, but mostly because they let me put a photo on a credit card 4 years ago(…but whatThe ever).

So it came to my attention that folks with EBT cards who wanted to pull put the cash benefit to pay rent or other bills through their bank accounts had a problem.

Capital One only has 1  brick and mortar store with an ATM that you could deposit cash into. This ATM was in Santa Monica. Finally Capital One opened up a branch and the Americana at Glendale. But then the problem happened that their ATM machines would not read the EBT cards even though it had the “Quest”God symbol on it. EBT card holders had to walk down the street to Bank of America to withdraw their money and pay a $3 surcharge for the privilege, then walk two blocks back to Capital One where they could deposit the cash into their bank accounts. I do not know about you but walking around with a couple hundred dollars and cash in my pocket would make me feel very nervous.

Finally they fixed it and the Capital One machines read the cash benefit amounts from the EBT card.


The next goal should be using two cards to pull money from the EBT account and depositing it into the bank account without having to pull the physical cash out and put it back into the machine

Poor People Shouldn’t Buy…

I don’t want my tax dollars to pay for all kinds of things. When my taxes are spent with the Military, I am not asked for an opinion about which brand of ammunition should be purchased. My Education tax dollars do not give me an invitation to decide which texts should be in the curriculum, the placement of desks in a room, the subcontracted uniform vendor elections. My say in how my taxes are used kind of end with me forking over the money and an occasional ballot item.

And then there is the views on Cash Aid and Food Stamps.

Everyone has views on how the recipients should be selected and how they might be allowed to use the funds.

“I don’t want Food Stamps to pay for steaks”

“Food Stamps should only buy fresh veggies, not frozen or canned”

“People on cash aid should have to spend every dollar they have and sell every belonging and become homeless before they are allowed to apply for cash assistance”

“Cash Aid should not be accessible through ATM machines in theme parks . . . because no poor people should ever go to Universal Studios or be gifted with a trip to Disneyland.”

“Medicaid funds should only cover broken bones and emergencies, I do’t want to supplement Big Pharma, Birth Control, dental care or anything more than a band aid for those poor people.”

“Why do beggars or buskers singing for money even have guitars?”

 

I am wondering…. do you think your say ends when you pay?

Why do we feel okay judging the worthiness of individuals because we actually see them use the program next to us in the grocery line and other public places? Do we judge because we associate poverty with being bad?

 

Please comment and tell me how you feel about this.

The US Debt is $19.3 Trillion Dollars:Blame the Poor People

This always gets me. A sweet girl (Amy Cudworth)  I knew in Jr. High posted a rant about how families could and are abusing the welfare system and she personally is paying for them.

Dear Amy, your simple knee jerk reaction was to look at the most visible consumers of American Tax Dollars and assume they are draining us dry. They are using the tax dollars and therefore are evil, bad, and are to blame for the economy.

Whoa, that is a lot of judgement and anger to be tossing around.

So Amy C., this is for you.

So let’s look at what an Average Californian pays in taxes and where those dollars go:

An “average Californian” paid $15,496 in Federal Taxes

Health $4,444.88
* Includes $2,029.08 for Medicaid
* Includes $53.56 for Children’s Health Insurance Program
Pentagon & Military $3,932.56
* Includes $842.38 for Military Personnel
* Includes $108.44 for Nuclear Weapons Wait, I don’teven want to own nukes!
Interest on Debt $2,117.06
Unemployment and Labor $1,240.79
* Includes $92.48 for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – AKA Welfare
* Includes $35.11 for Job Training and Employment Programs
Veterans Benefits $919.34
* Includes $404.48 for Payments for disability, death, etc.
* Includes $368.58 for Veterans Health Administration
Food and Agriculture $713.69
* Includes $441.72 for SNAP (food stamps)
* Includes $42.19 for Federal Crop Insurance
Education $550.21
* Includes $183.26 for Pell Grants, Work Study, and other Student Aid
* Includes $129.96 for Elementary and Secondary Education
Government $449.98
* Includes $73.12 for U.S. Customs and Border Protection
* Includes $40.87 for Federal Prison System
Housing and Community $298.03
* Includes $57.87 for Head Start and Related
* Includes $11.02 for Homeless Assistance Grants
Energy and Environment $247.55
* Includes $50.15 for Environmental Protection Agency
* Includes $10.89 for Energy efficiency and renewable energy
International Affairs $231.59
* Includes $46.05 for Diplomatic and consular programs
* Includes $40.15 for Global Health Programs
Transportation $179.61
* Includes $29.89 for Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
* Includes $6.56 for Federal Aviation Administration
Science $170.70
* Includes $102.64 for NASA
* Includes $39.44 for National Science Foundation

TOTAL $15,496
US AVERAGE $12,978

 

You paid $596.65 into programs someone on Welfare would access; or basically 4.09% of your tax dollars went to people on Welfare

31.31% of your taxes went to the military funding and veterans.

That 4.09% is going into programs where some of the recipients ALSO pay taxes, and the hope is that they will rejoin the workforce and pay taxes at the same rate that you and I do.

Those programs keep people alive and fed. They house and feed children who can’t work. They reduce crime by reducing the desperation of the very poor.

And in the scenario that was posted – I would refer you to SNOPES  to address the article that says (ORANGE parts are my contributions)

How to get $75,000 in benefits every year from the US Government for you and your girlfriend?

Follow these proven and simple steps.

First … get a girlfriend…
1. Don’t marry her.
2. Use your mom’s address to receive your mail.
3. The guy buys a house. (Then guy sells house to pay fines for his crimes when convicted)
4. Guy rents out house to his girl girlfriend who has 2 of his kids.
5. Section 8 will pay $900 a month for a 3 bedroom home.(Section 8 lists are closed in LA. They regularly check your income to move you out ASAP)
6. Girlfriend signs up for Obamacare so guy doesn’t have to pay for family insurance. ( That is not how that works. Do you mean Medi-Caid or MediCal?)
7. Being a single mother, Girlfriend gets to go to college for free! (I was a single mother and I totally had to pay for my own college. I am in Grad school and STILL paying!)
8. Girlfriend gets $600 a month for food stamps (every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates as much as $9 of economic activity – according to the USDA)
9. Girlfriend gets free cell phone from US Government  (The LIFELINE phone? It breaks and is only good for 1 year)
10. Girlfriend get free utilities. (From Whom? How do you even do that?)
11. Guy moves into home but still uses mom’s house to receive mail.
12. Girlfriend claims one kid and guy claims one kid on taxes. Now you both get to claim head of household at $1,800 credit. So you think the IRS won’t see you are living with your mom when she files taxes? Are you the father of the child? I am so confused. Is she working and even eligible to file for taxes?
13. Girlfriend gets disability for being “crazy” or having a “bad back” at $1,800 a month and never has to work again.(so why was she going to college? she can’t use that degree nor can she collect educational loans and grants while permanently disabled.)

This plan is perfectly legal and is being executed now by millions of people. except that it is not, and it is not. 

A married couple with a stay at home mom yields $0 dollars. An unmarried couple with stay at home mom nets $21,600 disability + $10,800 free housing + $6,000 free obamacare + $6,000 free food + $4,800 free utilities + $6,000 Pell Grant money to spend + $12,000 a year in college tuition free from Pell Grant + $8,800 tax benefit for being a single mother = $75,000 a year in benefits.

Any idea why the country is 18 + trillion in debt?

So basically, your argument is flawed, your premise is unrealistic, and you are a better person who is smarter than this.

Drugs, Alcohol, and Welfare. Butt Out

cocaine, coke, dollar, welfareWelfare and Drugs : the Only 2 Things You Should Care About When They Mix

“I don’t want my tax dollars used for drugs” “Poor people are poor because they make bad choices, poor people on drugs are criminals.” , “Poor People? We hate them!”.

Oh my god, get over yourself and shut up. Just shut it.

You should not care more if someone on public aid using drugs than you care if the coworker next to you is on drugs.

There are only two things you should care about.

  1. Is the drug and alcohol use interfering with them ending their poverty
  2. Are they capable parents while being involved with substances?

Accepting public cash aid is not the same as opening your diary to the world and inviting them to judge your choices. Nowhere in the thick pile of paper is there a place to sign away your privacy and invite the general public in to tell you how to live.

Also, there is no vow of sobriety to take when applying for public assistance benefits.

Many people use substances such as alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and combinations of these as a way to self-medicate emotional and mental health issues. Those issues are what needs to be addressed.

If substance use is actually substance abuse, I direct people into evaluations for treatment. This is California, no one can be forced into treatment, but there are consequences for not being a competent parent. Child Services will become involved.

 

There are consequences for not being stable enough to look for work or hold down employment and transition to financial self-sufficiency – you lose access to public assistance.

Dignity for the Poor

Should Poverty come with “Perks”? #fb

@MENDPOVERTY posted a picture of the hot meal they served in the main Pacoima building yesterday. Someone commented that it that is how the poor are eating ; he would quit his job.

To be fair, the head of the food department Richard Weinroth used to own his own restaurant and his cooking is yummy. In turn he is teaching cooking to the volunteers in the department as well as bringing in school kids from the neighborhood and teaching them cooking as well. But let’s forget all of that and get down to emotions.

Let’s not be fair. Let’s talk about how you feel.

When you see someone on public cash assistance and you see them drinking a beer, or smoking a cigarette, or getting a tattoo, or drinking a Starbucks: are you mad? Do you feel that they are infringing on the rights that only people who are not on aid should have?

I get irate. I will be honest. I see parents bring their kids to my office wearing Burger King Crowns and wearing name brand clothing. When I ask if they had the clothes donated or where they bought them – I often hear that they shopped at pricey clothing stores in the mall that I don’t dare wander in to and paid a quarter of their cash aid for the month in clothes purchases.

Am I mad that poor people have nice things?

snicker

Am I frustrated that responsible economic choices are not being made?

I am never mad that someone has nice things. I am annoyed that as a population we have made a social contract to assist the poor in surviving poverty: they are given enough financial, medical and food assistance to keep poverty from being lethal and to give them room to pull themselves into a better fiscal situation – but it does not seem to be helping some people. The system is labeling them and crippling them with the Stigma of “Welfare Queens”, “Welfare Moms” and “Deadbeats” . This harms them so badly that people are not asking for help at all because they don’t want to be labeled as worthless.

Poverty is, after all an economic state and not a statement of personal worth.

I want people in poverty to thrive; in fact I count on it professionally. I want to see growth and education and employment and so see people rise from daily struggle to economic security.

I feel betrayed when I see someone pull out the EBT (Welfare checks come on a debit card these days) card and pay full price for anything. If you don’t use coupons with your Food Stamp Funds I want to kidnap you and make you watch episodes of Extreme Couponing with me. I believe a Smart Phone is a necessity for leaving poverty – but I don’t believe you need 2 iPads to go with it.

I have been so poor that you could not measure the desperation I felt when the DPSS office screwed me over and “forgot” to do an update and I had to wait days for food-stamps or the cash aid – meanwhile I had a 3-year-old who needed diapers and I was out of milk. And I worked and I went to school, and I found creepy crappy jobs that I hated and I worked them until I came to sit here in the GAIN office trying desperately not to screw up my cases for other people who are in the same economic spot I was.

Perhaps that is why I feel entitled to tell people on entitlements to make the money last and not think of it as free money. that money is a social contract and I think we can expect people who are receiving it to spend it in the spirit it is issued. It is a tool, not a toy.

No. I don’t ever want to see Purple P’s on the lapels of the poor to identify them as impoverished, and I don’t think they should eat gruel (porridge – oatmeal etc) and stale bread.

I want us to have a responsible system od balanced respect. We could be poor at any time :  the poor are hopefully on their way out of that classification and their tax dollars will fund the hopes and change of others.

So, eat your fancy lunches, and then stick around to learn to grow the ingredients and cook it for yourself.

Wicked Witch of the Welfare Office

 ImageUsually I feel pretty good about my job. Today I am disenchanted. I had an imaginary conversation with myself.

I am the evil witch lurking…ahem…working in the welfare office.

My Inner Angry Republican pitches a fit about 50 times a day. And with good reason too.  But my out Professional Social Worker tries to seek better solutions and keep it all in check.

Money for nothing?! Not really – you have to work (or prepare for work) to be granted cash aid
But if the parents don’t work the family still gets money True – but we choose to believe the parents are not spending any cash aid on themselves and only on their children
You are on crack, right? At least tell me you are screening the welfare peeps for drugs. No. We don’t test the parents – but we do ask them 7 questions to screen them for substance use and abuse
Then you take their money away, right? Of course not. We schedule them for a Clinical Assessment and chose to believe they are not buying beer, weed, crack, coke, schrooms, uppers, downers, etc . We need to believe these drugs are DONATED to them.
Why do you believe that? Because a habit is expensive, if they could afford a strong heavy habit – they don’t need Welfare funds and we would have to cut them off
What’s bad about that? Because we know they are not magically “finding” the money and we sleep better knowing the money has at least made it into a parent’s hands and there is a chance that it is being spent on the family
Do you require receipts for how the cash aid money was spent No
Why not? Too much trouble
Don’t you believe that if people were accountable for how the money was spent, they would spend it on toothbrushes and rent etc and not on cat food, veterinary bills, drugs, strip clubs and gambling Did I tell you about the time I did ask for receipts and the person bought job interview clothes at Caesar’s Palace Shops?
Why did you ask for receipts that time? Well, because GAIN  – or Welfare to Work gives money for job clothing, school books etc.
Oh, so there is some accountability. How does that work out? One time a lady bought 7 pairs of shoes as her work clothing.
What, was she a stripper? Many of my clients are strippers or in elicit but legal trades. I give them credit for making the effort.
So you encourage this activity? I encourage work of any kind. They need to do 32-35 hours of work type activity a week.
Why only 35? I do at least 40 hours of work and 20 hours of volunteering and have up to 4 kids in my house. I don’t know. At 32 hours an employer is supposed to be offering benefits like health care so families can leave Medi-Cal Insurance.
What if they don’t want to work or train, etc? Then they can say they have mental health or substance abuse or domestic violence issues or are homeless and the requirement for these hours can be waived temporarily or permanently.
Are you serious? Of course, It is the compassionate thing to do. If someone is so stressed or overwhelmed that they really cannot function in society; I don’t want to set them up for failure
So you take their children away, right? Why would we? We take a licensed professionals word – or sometimes the client tells us – that this person cannot work or go to school or do community service. What does that have to do with parenting?
Well, a 40 hour a week job is easier than 24/7 parenting. Never the less. We trust that these parents are doing what is best for the children.
Does Welfare really look out for the WELFARE of kids. Kinda,. Sorta. We make food funds and cash aid and medical funding available to the family and trust they are being accessed on behalf and for the benefit of the kids.
That’s it? Also, we ask that once a year a report card or immunization card is turned in. See, we care.
But there is a time limit on this, right? Bill Clinton put a time limit. Yes, the Federal Time Limit is 5 years or 60 months of Cash aid per family
Whey. At least that is clear and simple But some people stay on Cash Aid from the 7th month of pregnancy until their child is 18 years old.
WTF? Or until the baby graduated from High School. 
How can you stay on Welfare for over 18 years Easy. Say you were in a domestic violence relationship. Or that you are too emotionally disturbed to hold down a job or really benefit from the program. How can we push you out of the nest?
OMG Oh, my goodness indeed. See me? I am saving the world over here.
Do you really feel like that? Of course.
You’re sick. No. no fever, I feel fine. Thanks for the concern.
How are you really helping them? I am not. I make sure they have the resources to help themselves. Poverty sucks. People will move on  at their own pace. All I can do is offer options.
Like what? I will pay for child care so they can work, or I pay for books, fees and supplies for vocational training or college.
Vocational Training? Sure – you know, so people can be hair dressers and such
Very few hair dressers live far above the poverty line and there are no medical, dental, vision or life benefits with that position usually Well, then I hope each of them is the next Vidal Sassoon or Jose’ etc. I realy can’t be bothered to make sure it will make them rich or middle class. I just want to say I have “X number of clients participating” and then hope they can keep their heads above water off Welfare.
Seriously? Seriously.
Why didn‘t I hear that you pay tuition? Are they required to use their cash aid for tuition? No. The tuition at a public Community College will be waived and Federal or other financial aid will cover it at other types of schools.
When I went to school, I paid Tuition Well, you should have had a child an not been able to afford it.
Speaking of that… when new children come into the family – what happens? Usually the Medi-Cal and Food stamps increase but not the cash aid. After all – birth control is free on Medi-Cal.
Did you say “usually”? Well yes,. Some children are exempt from the Maximum Family Grant.
Meaning they qualify for raising the family cash aid amount Sure, if they show proof they were on long term birth control like a shot or IUD – or they can say they were raped and then we take their word and cover the baby as well.
OMG I know. Aren’t we nice? And – we have thousands of families leaving welfare each year.
How many of them leave before their time limits are up?How many stay on despite the time limits

How many are forced off or “timed out”?

I don’t know. But aren’t I nice?

 

 

 

 

Child Support: end profiting by discriminating against single parent families on cash aid

Stop profiting by discriminating against single parent families on cash aid!

A two parent family who lives as a household on public aid is not expected to repay public assistance. . A two parent family who lives separately while one parent and the child(ren) receive public assistance will have to repay the entire assistance .

My daughter just turned 18 years old and is two weeks from graduating High School. For the past 12 years I have been her sole support except for $240 a month; a partial child support payment. There is a $10,000 balance on the child support case and my daughter and I will never see a dime of it. I was on cash aid for about 5 years and completed college against the advice of my DPSS social workers. For the last 12 years I have not been on cash aid but the County of Los Angeles is still collecting Child Support to pay for five (5) years of cash aid.( I actually work in the welfare system now) The County of Los Angeles has received over half of my child support order for 17 years. This $10,000 is past due child support never paid to me.
A two parent family who lives as a household on public aid is not expected to repay public assistance. . A two parent family who lives separately while one parent and the child(ren) receive public assistance will have to repay the entire assistance grant even though fewer dollars were given to this family than to the family living under one roof.
For example:
Joe and Sue live together, have a child together and together they request cash aid. They receive a cash aid payment for Joe, Sue and Baby . Cash aid ends and Joe eventually moves out. Joe and Sue enter into a Child Support agreement. Sue is able to collect the full amount of child support ordered.
But maybe:
Joe and Sue don’t live together when they have a baby and apply for cash aid. Sue receives cash aid for herself and Baby for three years when Sue completes her education and finds a self-sustaining job. The County of Los Angeles demands Sue give her child support rights to them and they take all but $50 of child support. After Sue leaves cash aid the county continues to take more than half of the child support. After the baby turns 18 the county continues to bill Joe for all the cash aid Sue and Baby received when he was not living with them. There is an additional 10% interest charge added to the debt the county believes is owed to them.
Why do we ask some parents to repay cash aid and not demand that all parents pay this back – or let none of them pay it? Is it double dipping to take tax payments out of paychecks and have the taxes go to social welfare programs and additionally garnish money to pay for the social welfare your child is using?
And, who monitors these accounts? The California Child Support system has been adding on 10% for years and I think the outstanding debt on the account is more than any cash aid award my family received. I was labeled a Welfare Mom, he was labeled a Dead Beat and the state of California and Los Angeles County are making a profit.

A Few Words on EBT vs Restaurant Meals Programs

The convienence store next door proudly displays “EBT  commonly known as CalFresh is accepted here”.

Please, please, please don’t use your cash aid money at the 7-11 store where everything costs more than at the store. A stick of string cheese is a dollar there. At a grocery store you can buy the package of 12 sticks for $3.00. They are not part of the restraunt Meals Program and they are not taking your Food Stamp funds as far as I can tell.

Understandably, when the money is free and just given to you without instruction, you are less emotionally involved in how it is spent. However, it is available for combination with coupons and then yourFree Food Money can be $700 instead of $300 if you work it correctly.

Also, Food stamp / Cal Fresh funds are available for use for hot meals at places like El Polo Loco and Jack in the Box so that you who are homeless, disabled or a senior citizen on Food Aid can have a hot meal. When you tell me thatyou can not go to an appointment I have set up for you because you “will miss the meal at the shelter”, I am not very sympathetic. You have the means to purchase other food. That was the point of giving you the aid.

“But , it’s hard. You don’t understand how hard!”

ImageThis, without exception, if the most irritating excuse I hear about why someone has not tried to improve their life or that of their children.

Imagine:

Dora, the shortest of all social workers, just had a very loud conversation with a woman who has been “going to enroll in adult school to learn to read and write” for 2 years. However, she thinks it may conflict with the schedule she would like to have in cosmetology school so she has never enrolled in either. Meanwhile the Dept. of Children Services is telling her that she has to go through mental health therapy, but she thinks it is “too hard” to make it to the appointment.

Says Dora: “Life is hard. Maybe you don’t understand that, but it is. It is hard to raise children, it is hard without children. It is hard to look for a job; it is hard to maintain stable and meaningful employment. Everything is hard. That is just how it is. You are choosing to think that HARD means MISERABLE and you are trying to avoid it.”

My thoughts ….

  1. Cosmetology is a difficult trade and the study of it requires a fair amount of math and science. I honestly have not met any dumb hairdressers. My hair guy Denny (of The Yellow Balloon in Arcadia) is brilliant and dedicated and works long hours standing on his feet.  – I don’t think this young mother can be a Cosmetologist.  
  2. OMG- STOP WHINING! Is this what you have taught your kids to do in the face of adversity; to whine? Somewhere in my life a family member used to tell me, “come here and cry and I will give you something to cry about.”
  3. This is the Welfare recipient that the public identifies as draining resources and sponging off the system. Because, by the way, she is.  Nice job as ambassador, right?
  4. Get a simple job that does not require literacy: Push a broom, clean, wash dishes, etc…  Take a job in the service industry and earn while you learn.
  5. Go to Adult school on the side.
  6. Be responsible for yourself and own your decisions – even when your decision is to do absolutely nothing. And then be aware of the consequences of your choices. In this situation, the consequence is that you may lose your children. If you lose your children you will also lose your meal ticket, food stamps, Medi-CAL, and cash aid.
  7. Parenting my own children was never this frustrating. Changing the attitude and behaviors of adults from my limited role is anguish.
  8. How many minutes would it take for me to be fired if I walked over there and said “Get over yourself !”? Yep. I will just sit here and write this while I collect my voice messages.

Not all people are like this. Thankfully, most of the folks we help are willing, motivated and have their own hustle on that we support. “Good things come to he who hustles”. It is true.

By now, in this fictitious scenario, Dora has stopped talking and the volume level is normal again so I can make phone calls.

CalWORKS and Domestic Violence

 

E. Child Support Good Cause Claim for Non-Cooperation

 

Prior to referral of an individual to the local child support agency, the county welfare department shall determine if that person has good cause for non-cooperation.

107 County welfare departments must inform all applicants/recipients verbally and in writing of their right to request an exemption from the cooperation requirement should they fear that compliance would endanger themselves or their children, or should any of the other grounds for an exemption apply.

108 No corroborating evidence is required of an abuse survivor to support a good cause claim: the individual’s sworn statement of the abuse shall be sufficient to establish abuse unless the agency documents in writing an independent, reasonable basis to find the recipient not credible.

109 If the welfare department finds good cause, it shall not refer the case to the local child support agency.

information is from this guide

read more ♥♥baylegal.org/wp…/A-Guide-for-Advocates-on-DV-and-CalWORKs-2009.pdf 

 

Counties must issue a Notice of Action when a domestic violence waiver is denied or granted.

47 The notice should include enough information to allow the person to understand what has happened and whether to appeal the agency’s action. For instance, with an MFG waiver that includes several children, the notice should inform the person what months and what amounts of cash aid were approved retroactively for each child. Recipients may request a hearing to contest a denial (or partial approval) of a domestic violence waiver.