Just need to vent: state assistance - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 01-04-2011, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Soooo dh lost his job right before xmas, the day after we moved into a new home to accomdate our family of 6, soon to be 7. Suckage. And he sold his tools (he was a mechanic, but mechanics arent making a lot) so we could eat and all that. He went and applied for emergency state assistance and unemployment, just hoping to keep us afloat while he job searched.

As part of our benefits, we have to both be working or going to school. Thats fine by me, as I wanted to go to school, but it doesnt make sense to make both of us work for $1000 a month, only to pay out $670 per WEEK for our children to go to childcare. We just need a little help through 1-2 months, you know? Doesnt make sense, but whatever. BUT, this is the part that gets annoying.... the program director tells me its up to her if I get to work or go to school. It doesnt matter to her that Im pregnant. That i have no work history. that I have a complicated pregnancy. none of it matters to her. The state offers assistance with enrollment fees and all that, but only at HER decision. She told me it was up to me if I was going to go ahead and sign up for school before talking to her and getting her decision, but that if I did that, the fees would need to come from me. Grrr cant afford the $200 start up, which is why we were asking for assistance in the first place.

ANYWAY, so they told me husband in the first interview that only one of us would need to participate because of how many kids we have. Then asked him if he wanted to apply for child care. He said no, since I would be home. Then, we find out a week later that we both have to participate and we arent enrolled in childcare so I ask to be enrolled.

We find childcare. We get ready to enroll them. The state hasnt approved us yet because they say we declined it. :(

So now we have to wait 15-20 days to get the childcare, way past the time school starts. AND, we cant not be working or we get our benefits taken. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!?!?

SOOOO ANYWAY, we get the school to do the math on our  "copay" and all that and we are going to have to do a copay for almost $500 a month. :( Thats going to be me working for 2 weeks to make enough for childcare. and they take cash benefits when you get a job, so its not like we would still have that. we would only have child care.

Does this make sense to anyone? Is it this stupid in every state? We arent trying to "live off the government"... we just wanted a little help so we didnt end up on the streets. :(

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#2 of 24 Old 01-04-2011, 02:53 PM
 
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Could you attend school online so that you don't need the childcare? Will they pay for that?

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#3 of 24 Old 01-04-2011, 03:00 PM
 
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I agree with going to school online. You'll qualify for the full pell grant, so you won't have to pay anything for school (especially community college), an you'll both be 'doing something' without the need for childcare, and should qualify for other types of assistance.

Hope it works out for you.

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#4 of 24 Old 01-04-2011, 03:02 PM
 
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I'm assuming your on DWIP, the "intro" to your states cash assistance/welfare program?  See if your OB will give you a medical waiver.  We did that a few years ago when my DH was laid off and I was preggers with DS1.


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#5 of 24 Old 01-04-2011, 07:01 PM
 
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A couple of questions:

 

I don't get how the cash assistance program works. We get medicaid and food stamps and I have problems with how THOSE work. Like when DW#2 lost her job so we had her added to our household (prior to that we just said she lived with us but fixed her own food and gave us a fixed amount of money for rent/utilities, which was true) and they put our benefits on hold until they get a birth certificate to prove her citizenship. I was able to sign an affidavit attesting to her citizenship that will get food stamps reinstated, but to get medicaid back, they HAVE to have the birth certificate.

 

Why my medicaid depends on her citizenship is beyond me.

 

I don't know what to tell you, other than make sure you read the fine print, and jump through their hoops. I'd look at the written policies for your state's programs (it's almost certainly online somewhere), to find out whether that caseworker is blowing smoke up your back over how much control she has over whether you can do ed or work.

 

And in the mean time, look into nonprofit programs that might be able to help you. Salvation Army, for example, or St. Vincent de Paul. You might at least be able to get help with utilities for a month.


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#6 of 24 Old 01-05-2011, 08:43 AM
 
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Sounds about right to me.It is the same here in Ohio.My friend is disabled and dying,but the system still makes her pay for her medicine.No money...no meds.

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#7 of 24 Old 01-05-2011, 02:26 PM
 
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It is screwy.  We were trying to get on WIC (2 kids at home, preg with #3, and I am on unemployment for a whopping $66/week).  We make, with my unemployment, $68 a week too much to qualify for WIC.  I would be better off not collecting unemployment.  Of course that would put us at $2 over qualifying. 

Jerks.


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#8 of 24 Old 01-05-2011, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Unfortunately, cant do online classes as they say they cant prove how much time you spend doing that...and you have to be doing a certain amount of hours. So, they want to pay poop loads of money for me to work or go to school and make diddly. And since the childcare is there for a year....they would be willing to pay all that money for all those months. STUPID.

The pregnacy card here doesnt help, either. I even have complicated pregnancies and they insist I go job searching or be in school (again, their choice) until the day I deliver. The only exception is if you enter the program after 8 months pregnant.

And I keep telling them, its not like we are trying to live off the government...in fact, I was the only person in there with tears because this is NOT how I want my life to be. I want off state assistance asap. DH is looking and interviewing left and right.

Its so frustrating. During this orientation meeting, they tell you all about the benefits of the "W" program and all it has to offer yet when you say "fine, Im on it, I will go ahead and accept the help" they change their rules on you. Im just such a mess from this stress.

I was in a serious accident 2 days ago and am on strict bedrest for at least a week, probably more. I have the stupid social worker calling me telling me I have to come in ASAP or lose benefits, regardless of doctors notes and such. stupid stupid. :(

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#9 of 24 Old 01-05-2011, 06:15 PM
 
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I'm sorry, but so many things that you are saying don't sound right. It really sounds like your casework is on a major power trip.

 

For starters, I would check into whether they can tell you 1) if you have to get a job or can take classes and 2) how you can take the classes. I really don't think that it's their call which you do. Her argument doesn't even make sense. You're judged on the number of hours you take, not the amount of time you study. On-campus classes have no guarantee of time spent on the work. Organic chemistry doesn't "count" more for public assistance simply because the homework usually requires an enormous amount of time, so the time argument doesn't hold water. I would push them on that one. 

 

In our state, the minimum your daycare subsidy can be is $5/day/child, so in your case that would be $20/day max, which makes working a more viable option. Each state sets its own regulations, but I know that ours is fairly standard. It looks like NH had to cut their subsidy rates recently, though, so that might be part of the problem.

 

I also know that our state views people with children under 5 a bit differently precisely because of the cost of childcare. I'm not sure of all of the details, but I'd consider asking for written policies showing that what they are saying is accurate.


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#10 of 24 Old 01-05-2011, 06:15 PM
 
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Don't take any of it personally, the system is just crazy-making by design, so that only the most desperate people will persist long enough to get any assistance.  It sounds like you're not nearly desperate enough to satisfy the program director yet.  I'm not following your numbers well, but you can work them out for yourself and decide if assistance is worth the extraordinary persistence it's going take for you to ever see any of it.  In any case, keep looking for other options for aid and income. 

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#11 of 24 Old 01-06-2011, 03:06 PM
 
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call and ask to speak to her supervisor to "clarify" things...that should get it fixed :)


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#12 of 24 Old 01-06-2011, 03:31 PM
 
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Here in CA, there is a program called CALWorks (used be called TANF) that helps families with kids with cash assistance. You can only get it for 18 months, but you use the same card for foodstamps and you can pay for things like a debit card or withdraw cash. I also heard that they help pay for childcare when you go to school and such. are there programs like that in NH?


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#13 of 24 Old 01-08-2011, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, thats this program. Here people can get it for 60 months. I have never had to use it and dont intend on needing it much longer. DH just got himself a job this morning so hopefully this ends all the yucky stuff and the state aid can go to the other people that need it.

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Here in CA, there is a program called CALWorks (used be called TANF) that helps families with kids with cash assistance. You can only get it for 18 months, but you use the same card for foodstamps and you can pay for things like a debit card or withdraw cash. I also heard that they help pay for childcare when you go to school and such. are there programs like that in NH?



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#14 of 24 Old 01-08-2011, 01:29 PM
 
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Don't take any of it personally, the system is just crazy-making by design, so that only the most desperate people will persist long enough to get any assistance.     


I didn't respond to this comment for a couple of days to see if it became more palatable. It didn't. My husband is the programming lead on a team that set up our state's childcare subsidy system. He's spent countless hours working on how to make the system better & easier to streamline the process. The goal for the Cabinet for Health & Family Services was to make it so that people could get their children enrolled in childcare and receiving the subsidy as quickly as possible. This project has been a massive undertaking, and it's working. Families are getting in much faster, and other states are emulating the software. The idea that the people who work in social services want only "the most desperate people" to receive aid is absurd. 

 

Of course there are bad social workers, just as there are bad people within every profession. I do think the OP's caseworker probably had some power issues going on, but that doesn't mean the entire system is one that is flawed and full of vindicative bureaucrats. My husband's first job was for a nonprofit that places children into foster homes, and then he took this job as a contractor with our state. He could make more in the private sector, but he really believes very strongly in what he's doing. The people with whom he's worked - field social workers, childcare providers, administrative social workers, other IT folks - have spent a lot of time trying to HELP, not hurt, people.

 

The regulations for social services are available to the public. It just sometimes takes a little research and to be forceful in showing that you know what the laws actually are rather than what a particular caseworker prefers.
 

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Yes, thats this program. Here people can get it for 60 months. I have never had to use it and dont intend on needing it much longer. DH just got himself a job this morning so hopefully this ends all the yucky stuff and the state aid can go to the other people that need it.

 

Yay! I'm glad he found a job so quickly!


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It is screwy.  We were trying to get on WIC (2 kids at home, preg with #3, and I am on unemployment for a whopping $66/week).  We make, with my unemployment, $68 a week too much to qualify for WIC.  I would be better off not collecting unemployment.  Of course that would put us at $2 over qualifying. 

Jerks.


Perhaps you could talk to your pediatrician about getting a referral for WIC? I remember that the doctor once told me that if my daughter needed special formula, it would help me to qualify for WIC in order to pay for it... Just a thought.

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#16 of 24 Old 01-26-2011, 10:44 AM
 
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Just a heads up to all those saying the opposite: My state refuses to accept online courses for the work/school requirement for childcare as well.  That's just one of the rules.

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#17 of 24 Old 01-26-2011, 10:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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NH is the same way. I was almost enrolled in 3 classes online, which is full time, especially with 4 kids, and they said it wouldn't count at all because they dont know how many hours you are spending towards that.
 

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Just a heads up to all those saying the opposite: My state refuses to accept online courses for the work/school requirement for childcare as well.  That's just one of the rules.



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Just a heads up to all those saying the opposite: My state refuses to accept online courses for the work/school requirement for childcare as well.  That's just one of the rules.



I wasn't saying it definitely wasn't true, just that the OP should ask to see the actual written policy and not accept what the caseworker is saying. The caseworker's reasoning is illogical, and I don't generally accept what people say when it's that illogical unless I see the policy written in an official manual.


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Don't take any of it personally, the system is just crazy-making by design, so that only the most desperate people will persist long enough to get any assistance.     


I didn't respond to this comment for a couple of days to see if it became more palatable. It didn't. ..

The regulations for social services are available to the public. It just sometimes takes a little research and to be forceful in showing that you know what the laws actually are rather than what a particular caseworker prefers.




I know it's hard not to take this personally, given your family's involvement with social services, but I also believe that these systems are bureaucratic and pretty much against enrollees every step of the way. It may be that they were not actually designed that way intentionally- but they may as well be. They are confusing, the rules are hard to find (and often contradict what actual caseworkers say), and there are so many hoops to jump through to get help, that getting help is often a full time job in and of itself.

 

I know people in social services- and they are good people. They aspire to help- I know that. That does not mean that I do not think that the system is broken and not in poor people's favor. The system further victimizes people who ask for help. I know- I get CALWorks, Medi-Cal, and foodstamps.


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#20 of 24 Old 01-26-2011, 02:29 PM
 
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Maybe "crazymaking by design" is wording it too strongly and too generally (though I think it is a fair description of the behavior of the director the OP is dealing with). 

 

Any system inevitably ends up putting its own welfare first, regardless of the good intentions of those who created it and those who work within it. 

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Originally Posted by Vaske View Post

Maybe "crazymaking by design" is wording it too strongly and too generally (though I think it is a fair description of the behavior of the director the OP is dealing with). 

 

Any system inevitably ends up putting its own welfare first, regardless of the good intentions of those who created it and those who work within it. 


Any gov't. system ... It matters not what software or hardware or even policies are - your results will only be as good as your social worker. Period.

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#22 of 24 Old 01-26-2011, 04:33 PM
 
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaske View Post

Don't take any of it personally, the system is just crazy-making by design, so that only the most desperate people will persist long enough to get any assistance.     


I didn't respond to this comment for a couple of days to see if it became more palatable. It didn't. ..

The regulations for social services are available to the public. It just sometimes takes a little research and to be forceful in showing that you know what the laws actually are rather than what a particular caseworker prefers.




I know it's hard not to take this personally, given your family's involvement with social services, but I also believe that these systems are bureaucratic and pretty much against enrollees every step of the way. It may be that they were not actually designed that way intentionally- but they may as well be. They are confusing, the rules are hard to find (and often contradict what actual caseworkers say), and there are so many hoops to jump through to get help, that getting help is often a full time job in and of itself.

 

I know people in social services- and they are good people. They aspire to help- I know that. That does not mean that I do not think that the system is broken and not in poor people's favor. The system further victimizes people who ask for help. I know- I get CALWorks, Medi-Cal, and foodstamps.


First, the people who work in social services aren't the people who design the systems. Legislatures do that, and the actual people in the trenches don't have any say over the policies. (And my husband isn't in the trenches in that he's not a social worker. He's just working on software projects for social services, but I see the enormous time & energy that goes into making the system more efficient). 

 

I found the income limit tables for the OP's state with 1 Google search. I clicked on 2 links to find the information that the OP's husband's UI puts them above the limit for cash assistance. I didn't spend any time looking for the rule her caseworker cited banning online classes, but I'm sure it's out there as well. When my BIL hit hard times, I looked up Medicaid applications for him, printed them, and mailed them to him to sign (not because he couldn't, just because it was all I could do to help from 1,200 miles away). It took 1/2 hour, and he got Medicaid as soon as he sent them in. So my experience is that research will help make the process smooth.

 

With the OP's case, I think there are a number of avenues that could & should be exhausted, but I'm not the OP. All I can do is offer advice from my computer. The one thing I definitely would do, especially if both of us were unemployed, would be to verify everything I'm being told.  
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaske View Post

Maybe "crazymaking by design" is wording it too strongly and too generally (though I think it is a fair description of the behavior of the director the OP is dealing with). 

 

Any system inevitably ends up putting its own welfare first, regardless of the good intentions of those who created it and those who work within it. 


I totally agree that the OP's caseworker sounds like she's not effective at communicating, at the very least. Every profession has those people, but I don't think it's fair to paint the whole system with that brush. 


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#23 of 24 Old 01-26-2011, 04:36 PM
 
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Any gov't. system ... It matters not what software or hardware or even policies are - your results will only be as good as your social worker. Period.

It does matter in the case I cited with my husband's project because the rate of reimbursement has increased significantly. There is more money flowing more quickly through the system, which ultimately benefits the people who are seeking the services. Where it used to take up to 6 weeks to have childcare subsidies approved, it now often takes only 1-2 weeks. Providers are getting paid faster, and parents are being served faster. 

 

Ultimately, though, yes you could get an incompetent caseworker, but there are ways around that situation. 
 


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#24 of 24 Old 01-27-2011, 01:38 PM
 
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I would just like to remind people that the OP asked to able to rant here- to have a safe space to do so. By making this all about caseworkers and how they are good people, we are not allowing what the OP asked for- safe space to rant.


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