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  THE LOW INCOME & URBAN HOUSING BLOG  

Monday, June 20, 2016

California To Remove Law Penalizing Low-Income Mothers

Low income mother with baby

Welfare benefits are calculated according to family size. There are currently about 17 states that have a family cap policy, which means additional benefits are denied to families who have more children while on welfare. One by one, many states are repealing the law, including California.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only two states now allow welfare benefits regardless of family size. Most states continue to have some policy in place that penalizes low-income mothers on welfare, while other states are either repealing the law, or revising the policy.

The state of California is planning to repeal the law altogether, joining Idaho and Wisconsin in offering a flat cash assistance grant regardless of family size.

What is the law called?

The law is called the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) Rule, and many feel the rule is unfairly penalizing low-income mothers. California Governor Jerry Brown agrees. Once the law is officially repealed, 93,000 families who were denied welfare benefits under the MFG rule will now become eligible for additional assistance. The amount is estimated to be about $138 per month per child.

The MFG rule, which has been in existence for about 20 years, is viewed by many as being racist as well as classist, because it often affects women of color as well as low-income mothers.

Why is the law being repealed?

Over the past few years, more than 130 organizations have written to the legislature in support of the repeal. Efforts to repeal the law have been led by a coalition of organizations dedicated to improving the lives of women, families and children. They include: ACCESS Women’s Health Justice; American Civil Liberties Union of California; California Latinas for Reproductive Justice; Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice, UC Berkeley, School of Law; County Welfare Directors Association of California; California Partnership; and Western Center on Law and Poverty.

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