The Lift Our Kids Coalition Holds Shoes and Socks Event to Highlight the Needs of Children in Deep Poverty
The Lift Our Kids Coalition today joined Senator DiDomenico, Representative Decker, and other legislators at the State House for an event to highlight the difficulty families receiving cash assistance face in meeting their children’s basic needs. As part of the event, shoes and socks were collected to benefit children in need. After the event, coalition members The Home for Little Wanderers and Cradles to Crayons will distribute donated shoes and socks to children they serve.
The Coalition advocates for state legislation to Lift Kids Out of Deep Poverty, S.36 and H.102, sponsored by Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Marjorie Decker. The bills would raise cash assistance grants by 10% a year until they reach 50% of the federal poverty level approximately four years from now. Families living below 50% of the poverty level are considered to be in Deep Poverty. Under the bills, once grant amounts reach half the poverty level, the grant would be adjusted as the poverty level goes up with inflation and would no longer lose their value over time.
“It is unconscionable that we have 50,000 children living so far below half of the poverty level in our Commonwealth,” said Senate Assistant Majority Leader Sal DiDomenico, D-Everett, the bill’s lead Senate sponsor. “Children go to school without socks, wearing worn out shoes, because their families have to pay other bills. We can – and must – do better.”
Massachusetts Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) benefits are a maximum of $593 a month for a family of three, leaving thousands of Massachusetts children below the level of Deep Poverty, currently $905 a month for three. Costs have gone up, but grant levels have been frozen. As a result, the grant buys only half as much as it did thirty years ago.
“Repealing the family cap made children equal regardless of when they were born, but they are still in Deep Poverty. Passing the bill this year would be the first step to bringing them halfway to the federal poverty level,” said Representative Marjorie Decker, D-Cambridge, the primary House sponsor. “Toilet paper and soap should not be luxury items people can’t buy,” she added, “certainly not people in Massachusetts.”
The Lift Our Kids Coalition, comprised of 127 organizations, is led by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) and Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS). The Coalition organized in late 2016 to advocate for repeal of the welfare family cap, the law that barred benefits for children conceived while the family received assistance.
The Legislature repealed the family cap in 2019 by an almost unanimous vote. About 11,000 previously excluded children are now receiving benefits, but the benefits are so low that families still struggle to pay for necessities like children’s shoes and socks.