BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana is doubling cash payments available to poor families through its welfare programs next year, the first increase in more than two decades, according to the state’s social services department.
Benefits will be boosted to the national average for people receiving cash assistance through the federal Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program and Kinship Care Subsidy Program.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services said the new payment amounts — intended to help families with food, shelter and clothing — will begin in January.
“We know there are many more families who could benefit from the programs, not only for the much-needed cash assistance but also for the valuable workforce development and educational opportunities these programs offer. We hope this increase in benefit amounts will attract more people,” agency Secretary Marketa Garner Walters said in a statement.
The latest data provided by the department show 1,484 households receive cash assistance through the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program and 1,338 households get kinship care subsidies. Those are available to relatives caring for children whose parents don’t live with them.
A three-person household that currently gets $240 in welfare assistance will see that amount grow to the national average of $484, according to the social services agency. People who are under the age of 60 and who aren’t disabled or caring for someone who is disabled are required to work or participate in an education or job training program aimed at helping them find employment.
Kinship care subsidies will grow from $222 per child to $450.
The change will be the first increase since July 2000 in a state where 19% of residents live in poverty.