On October 1st, Michigan parents that receive welfare cash benefits will have to make sure their kids actually attend school or risk losing benefits. Michigan’s Department of Human Services requires children between the age of 6-15 to attend school full time in order to receive benefits.
“The intent is, this is cash assistance for people with kids and you need to be responsible,” DHS spokesman David Akerly said. “It’s a carrot and stick.”
According to Michigan policies a student is truant when they have 10 or more unexcused absences per school year. During the 2011-2012 school year over 90,000 cases of truancy were reported, almost a 10% increase from the previous year.
If a child does not attend school, the entire family could become ineligible to receive benefits. After Monday, recipients will be required to prove school enrollment and attendance for any children when they apply for aid. Roughly, Michigan has 59,000 welfare cash-assistance cases and 162,000 recipients.
Advocates for people in need said the policy might be hurt some families without helping solve the overall problems with school attendance. Judy Putnam, spokeswoman for the Michigan League of Human Services, told Michigan Live that there is no doubt that children need to be in school. But she said it’s hard to tell what percentage of chronically absent students come from homes receiving cash assistance.
Do you feel parents should be penalized because their children are truant or absent from school?