May 16, 2017
BOSTON – Senator Sal DiDomenico today testified before the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities hearing in support of his legislation S.34, An Act to lift the cap on kids. The Cap on Kids – also called the “family cap” – denies welfare benefits to children conceived while – or soon after – the family began receiving benefits. As a result of the Cap on Kids, Massachusetts does not provide benefits for 9,000 children living in poverty and their parents struggle to provide even the most basic essentials for their children.
Under current Massachusetts statue, welfare benefits go up by about $100 a month as family size increases. For example, the basic grant for a family of two with no countable income is $478 a month, and the grant for a family of three is $578 a month. However, if a family of three has a child excluded by the family cap, they receive only $478 a month— a cut of 17 %.
“I don't know of a single person who would have a child simply to get an extra $100 a month,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico in his testimony. “The Cap on Kids harms children and causes the entire family to suffer, and it is long past due for Massachusetts to repeal this ineffective and unjust policy. By lifting the cap, Massachusetts law would once again value all children equally, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.”
Because their benefits are so low, parents with capped children struggle to meet their families’ basic needs. They often can’t pay for enough diapers to keep their child clean, dry, and healthy, or put food on the table.
Massachusetts is only one of 17 states - including Arkansas, Mississippi, and North Carolina – that still has a Cap on Kids. In 1995, Massachusetts adopted a family cap policy as part of a welfare reform law, despite the fact that there was no evidence that welfare recipients had additional children to get a small increase in their families’ grants. Families who receive welfare benefits are on average the same size as families in the general population, and the family cap has not reduced childbearing by welfare recipients since the cap was implemented.