Social Services directors offer advice to Schaefer Simplify welfare, board recommends


An article in yesterday's Carroll County edition incorrectly reported the amount of an Aid to Families with Dependent Children grant. The grants are $3.65 per person, per day.

The Sun regrets the errors.

State welfare reform shouldn't lose sight of the basic idea of welfare -- helping people, said the chairwoman of the Carroll County Department of Social Services board of directors.

Elinor Causey, a retired teacher, and other members met last month to draft comments to send to Gov. William Donald Schaefer and his Commission on Welfare Reform.

The commission is looking at ways to give more responsibility to those who receive Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

In Carroll County, about 1.3 percent of the population receives these grants, which average about $3.65 a day per family, not counting food stamps or medical assistance.

In Baltimore, by contrast, about 15 percent of the population receives this aid.

"Our board is not administrative; it's advisory," Mrs. Causey said. "Our main goal is the welfare of the people, particularly the children."

Department Director M. Alexander Jones commended the board for taking the time to draft the suggestions. He said very few local boards statewide had done so.

Mrs. Causey and her fellow board members are urging that the state provide incentives for people to get off welfare, instead of penalties for not trying.

"Being a parent is a job in itself, and we have to give the parent who is responsible for the child the wherewithal to have a healthy environment," Mrs. Causey said.

"We know the system is in need of reform," she said. But the board members want the reform to result in helping people become self-reliant.

Among the suggestions by the board are that the state:

* Use clear language on application forms and other paperwork so that people can understand them, and simplify the process used to screen applicants.

* Focus not only on requiring clients to work in community service jobs, but also on helping them learn the skills they need to get and keep a job.

* Consider the child care and transportation needs of clients, if they are to work in community service jobs to earn their welfare checks.

* Establish how it will deal with children conceived after the parent begins receiving welfare. Under a "family cap" proposal, parents would not receive money for those children. The board members urge the state to propose a clear policy on helping these children.

* Provide more flexibility when establishing limits on how long people may receive grants, such as by taking into consideration the economy at the time.

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