A coalition that has had recent success advocating for the expansion of state welfare programs to help low-income parents is kicking off its latest campaign Thursday, this time to boost benefits to some of the state's poorest families.
Parents who have lived in deep poverty will discuss their experiences at 5 p.m. Thursday when the Lift Our Kids Coalition, made up of 145 mostly community-based organizations, launches its latest push for a bill that attracted broad support when Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Rep. Marjorie Decker filed a similar version last session.
The legislation (SD 430/HD 1158) would increase the maximum cash assistance grants offered through the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program by 20 percent each year until it reaches 50 percent of the federal poverty line. Organizers said families living below half the federal poverty line — $915 a month for a family of three — are considered to be in "deep poverty."
The current maximum TAFDC benefit for a family of three is $652 a month and there are 27,000 Massachusetts families with children and 20,000 elderly residents and people with disabilities who receive the TAFDC grants, the group said. The coalition said the DiDomenico/Decker bill would bring the benefits up to the deep poverty threshold in July 2023.
The benefits would then adjust to keep pace with inflation. The Lift Our Kids Coalition successfully advocated for the 2019 repeal of a law preventing families on public assistance from receiving additional benefits when they have another child and recently secured a 10 percent increase in TAFDC benefits, which the group called an important first step but ultimately insufficient.