New DHS Policy Links Cash Assistance to School Attendance
Under a new policy announced this week by the Michigan Department of Human Services, Michigan families could lose welfare benefits if their children aren't attending school regularly. Under the new DHS policy (which you can access by clicking here), starting October 1 parents of school age children or minor parents will have to provide verification that every child in the household ages 6-18 (except those who have already graduated) is attending school. Failure to provide that verification for children aged 6-15 will result in the entire family losing benefits. If children are aged 16-18, only those children will lose benefits.
At least one school official in the state was quoted as saying that this policy could be an effective “tool” against truancy. However, advocates for families in poverty expressed concerns about a policy that would cut off benefits for an entire family if just one child were truant.
For their part, schools are going to be asked under this policy to provide parents with verification of school attendance for each of their children. Parents will be required to get the school to fill out and return the appropriate form in order to qualify for benefits (click here to view a copy of the required form, a DHS-3380).
It is worth noting that the process for 16-18 year olds is already in place. As of the writing of this article, MASSP had not yet been able to get information on how many new students this policy will impact. According to data compiled by the Michigan League for Human Services, in 2010 there were over 150,000 children statewide receiving FIP benefits (though no numbers on how many of those were school age).