The great state of Texas has several programs in place that are designed to help low income families survive. They include such names as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), Medicaid (free insurance) or CHIP (reduced insurance), WIC (basic food items for Women, Infants, and Children), Food Stamps, and CCMS (Child Care Management Services). These programs offer much needed assistance in areas which may not be accessible or are unaffordable for low income families.
They are, in and of themselves, an established and proven effort to help the very poorest in our society. Those with no insurance have insurance – those who can’t afford day care can pay less for it. And those who lose their jobs may apply for state assistance in the form of money. However, the income limitations and other restrictions placed upon qualifying for these services have been placed at such a low level that if one thinks about it (and many do), they realize that they’re actually better off working at a minimum wage job than actually trying to provide for their family decently.
TANF rules state that the assistance is available for loss of income, including loss of job (not willingly) and loss of support, including child support. However, when once I applied, I was told that I needed to have no income whatsoever to qualify for the benefit. People with no (reported) jobs and a family can take in about $800 from the state, but a single working mom who is momentarily having trouble paying bills gets nothing.
Medicaid and Food Stamps, too, state a minimum wage limit to qualify for it’s services. With many insurance plans costing $1000/mo for a family and groceries upward of $500/mo, what incentive does the man working the cash register at a fast food chain have to do better? His family can be insured for free and eat for free.
WIC is the only program which I truly see no fault with. It is directed toward pregnant women and families with small children. It provides formula, milk, cheese, eggs, cereal, and other basic food group items necessary for nourishment. The age limit is 5, which of course, is not when the need for basic food items subsides, but I can live with the fact that an age limit must be established for the program.
When I applied for CCMS long ago, I was under the impression that I would pay a copay for the day care services. Again, this must have been contingent on having a nowhere, minimum wage job, because my fees were prorated at a percentage of the actual amount – still too much for a single mother to afford in a world where one pays day care half of their salary just to be able to hold down a job. When finally I made too much money to qualify at all for day care assistance, my fees suddenly jumped to twice the price, and I was worse off than ever.
Stuck in the middle, a woman making a decent salary cannot qualify for Texas State welfare programs, yet must pay for insurance at full price, day care, food, and emergencies as they occur. She’s better off working a part-time or minimum wage job than actually trying to better herself within the working class. Minorities and legal aliens in Texas have made the most of this, working cash jobs while claiming all the benefits the state of Texas will offer. But that’s a whole other issue. In short, Texas state welfare programs can save a family thousands of dollars . . .if they don’t choose to apply for a good job.