PROVEN PROGRAMS HELP FAMILIES ON THE EDGE. Programs such as the federal and state EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) help keep Kansas children from experiencing poverty through cash assistance. Other programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps) and Medicaid provide crucial resources.
DESPITE THEIR SUCCESS, THESE PROGRAMS ARE LIMITED. Families thrive when their basic needs are met. But in 2015, harmful legislation (the so-called HOPE Act) was signed into law that created obstacles for Kansas families accessing anti-poverty programs. The legislation shortened the amount of time a family is eligible for cash assistance and added extra requirements that are difficult for families to meet. Kansas has seen a continued decline of children and families accessing anti-poverty programs. These restrictions harm families’ economic stability, ability to plan for the future, and capacity to deal with unexpected events.
- In 2018, nearly 150,000 Kansas kids (more than one in five) lived in families where no parent had regular, full-time employment.
- The EITC will be important as Kansans recover from the current economic downturn. It can only be claimed by people who earn income through work and pay taxes, and it is proven to help families out of poverty.
- The EITC helps more than 200,000 working Kansans — mostly those with children — make ends meet.
- TANF is a program designed to alleviate hardship for families experiencing poverty. Only Kansas families with children who have very low incomes are eligible to participate in the TANF cash assistance program.
- While these families need cash assistance, the benefit is small and not enough to cover basic needs. For a family of four, in a high-cost, high-population county, the maximum benefit is $449 per month. Kansas has never increased the amount, including adjusting for inflation, since the program began in 1996.
POLICYMAKERS SHOULD WORK TO REMOVE BARRIERS to these important programs, making them accessible so that eligible families can enroll without delay. We also need strong revenue streams to ensure the state can craft a budget that funds these needed programs, particularly during our current economic challenges.
ASK THE CANDIDATE:
- With about 103,000 kids living in poverty in Kansas — before the recent pandemic and its economic impacts – what role do you think the state can play to help families meet their basic needs?
- Kansas has not increased its benefit for cash assistance since 1996. Would you support an increase in the benefit for families who are struggling to make ends meet?
- Assistance programs such as public health insurance, food and cash assistance, and school lunch help meet the basic health care, nutrition, and housing needs for Kansas families. How would you address participation in these programs?
- Due to historical legal and policy exclusions, Kansans of color continue to face barriers. In 2018, 15 percent of total Kansas children lived in poverty, but nearly one-in-three Black Kansas children and one-in-four Latinx children did. What would you do to close those gaps and help ensure every Kansas child can fulfill their potential?
KANSAS ACTION FOR CHILDREN
VOTER GUIDE 2020