If you heard that there is a policy in Massachusetts that bars certain children in families with very low income from receiving cash assistance, would you be surprised? We are one of only 17 states that have the “Family Cap” policy which denies Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (cash benefits) to children conceived while or soon after a family received benefits. Families lose about $100 per month because of this policy. This lost income makes it even more likely for families to have to choose between basic necessities like feeding their families, buying diapers and other baby supplies, or making the rent.
The reality is, this policy was established during 1995 welfare reform with the intention of reducing births among very low income families who are disproportionately black and brown. How does that sit? For us, the intent to control the reproductive lives of very low income people of color is an affront to reproductive and racial justice. No policy should treat any child as though they are invisible. There is also no research to show that the family cap decreased births among TAFDC recipients.
We are a part of a campaign to lift this family cap and acknowledge the worth of every child in our Commonwealth. The Campaign is: Lift the Cap on Kids Massachusetts. The campaign has tremendous momentum with 85 sponsoring agencies. Learn more about the campaign here.
We just held an event at the State House called Diaper Day to recognize the basic necessities that an extra $100 per month buys for a child. Below is a picture from Diaper Day with our Senate sponsor of the event, Senator Sal DiDomenico of Everett. Representative Marjorie Decker of Cambridge is the House sponsor. All of the diapers you see were donated and went to Horizons for Homeless Children!
Please join our efforts. You can like the Lift the Cap on Kids Massachusetts Facebook Page and ask your friends to like it too. If you are part of an agency, ask if your agency can sign onto the campaign. If you sign on you can attend our monthly meeting and find many other ways to get involved in this exciting effort to value all children equally. To join the campaign, please contact Naomi Meyer, Greater Boston Legal Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Deborah Harris, the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (email@example.com).
Director of Operations and Member Engagement Homes for Families