Public Benefits

The Public Benefits sub-category contains programs and services administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) which help individuals and families meet their basic needs. Programs support families by providing cash assistance, employment assistance and training, and emergency aid to the elderly and disabled. The two main programs in this category are Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC).

Public Benefits serve individuals and families in poverty, the unemployed, those suffering from homelessness and others who are struggling to pay bills and stay housed, clothed and fed. In the mid-1990s, state and federal welfare reform marked a change emphasizing work and self-sufficiency. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) ushered in time limits and work requirements which had not previously been part of welfare policy under Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). To support work requirements many public benefit programs provide resources specifically designed to help families work, earn an income and attain self-sufficiency. In fact, eligibility requirements mandate participation in some form of work or qualifying education/training program. The work requirement is lessened for teen parents with children under age 6 and is waived for other recipients including those with a disability. Funding for education, child care, employment training and subsidized employment is intended to help parents enter and stay in the workforce.

Besides changing the goals of welfare, federal welfare reform also changed how most welfare programs are funded instituting block grants which cap the amount states receive from the federal government.

TAFDC is the primary cash assistance program administered by DTA under the federal TANF block grant. Families receive a cash payment depending on family size and financial thresholds, and can also receive child care and transportation support associated with the job/education requirement. Also in this category are three programs specifically for recipients of TAFDC: The Employment Services Program funds education, and employment and training services; the Teen Structured Settings Program helps support teen parents under the age of 20 by providing funds towards an approved placement – with a responsible adult or in a teen living program; Domestic Violence Specialists provide support to victims and families experiencing domestic violence. All three programs are exclusively for recipients of TAFDC.

EAEDC provides emergency assistance to the disabled, a person caring for someone who is disabled, a person over age 65, someone in a Mass. Rehab program or children unable to get TAFDC benefits. EAEDC provides cash assistance, but recipients also receive MassHealth coverage, and financial support for expenses related to infant care, moving as a result of domestic violence, or funerals.

These programs are managed by DTA which receives funding for administration and caseworker salaries. Caseworkers provide recipients with the support they need to navigate the system. The three main goals as stated by DTA are to: increase the personal and economic well-being of clients while providing the necessary benefits, reduce homelessness, and improve customer service.

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