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Delay holds up child support, welfare payments across state
Debit cards expected to arrive Wednesday
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Changes to TANF possible

Georgia receives $330 million annually in federal funds for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to help low-income families with cash assistance and job preparation.

The state must spend $173 million on services and resources for low-income families as part of the TANF program, either through government spending or nonprofit, third-party spending.

But possible changes to TANF legislation in the U.S. Congress could prevent the state from counting third-party spending.

According to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, third-party spending accounted for $99 million, or 57 percent, of state spending on the TANF program in the 2014 fiscal year.

The GBPI reports that the state is allocating $3.4 million less for work assistance programs and $1.4 million less for technical education for TANF-eligible families than it did in 2010.

About 16.6 percent of Hall residents, or 31,214 individuals, live below the poverty line, which is about $24,000 or less in annual income for a family of four.

As of July 2015, there were 353 TANF cases in Hall County, according to the state Department of Human Services, 321 of which were child-only cases.

State officials expect debit cards for more than 4,000 recipients of child support and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, including more than 50 individuals across Hall County, to arrive by Wednesday after delivery was halted.

The Georgia EPPICard provides access to child support payments and TANF, a cash-benefit welfare program. Clients who requested a new or replacement debit card between Aug. 19 and Sept. 17 were affected by the delay.

Ashley Fielding, Department of Human Services director of the Office of Legislative Affairs and Communications, told The Times that the delay impacted 36 recipients in Gainesville, nine in Flowery Branch, four in Oakwood and four more in other parts of Hall County.

Most affected individuals are child support clients, Fielding said.

The delay caught some local advocates for low-income families off guard, though they expect to manage the fallout with other resources.

“Thankfully, this delay hasn't impacted our residents,” said Brandee Thomas, managing director of My Sister’s Place, a Gainesville nonprofit homeless shelter for women and mothers. “A delay of even a day could derail the finances of those people who are relying on these funds to take care of their basic needs. Many of these recipients don't have a wide margin for error in their monthly budgets, so I hope that this error is corrected sooner than later.”

The state Department of Human Services contracts with Xerox for the production and delivery of the cards, and Commissioner Robyn A. Crittenden said she has requested a “root-cause analysis” of the backlog.

“We are disappointed this error affected so many parents trying to support their families, but we are committed to ensuring this problem is corrected immediately and there is a plan in place to keep it from happening again,” Crittenden said in a news release.

Child support and TANF recipients with questions about the status of their debit card requests can call the Xerox customer service line at 800-656-1347.


Changes to TANF possible

Georgia receives $330 million annually in federal funds for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to help low-income families with cash assistance and job preparation.

The state must spend $173 million on services and resources for low-income families as part of the TANF program, either through government spending or nonprofit, third-party spending.

But possible changes to TANF legislation in the U.S. Congress could prevent the state from counting third-party spending.

According to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, third-party spending accounted for $99 million, or 57 percent, of state spending on the TANF program in the 2014 fiscal year.

The GBPI reports that the state is allocating $3.4 million less for work assistance programs and $1.4 million less for technical education for TANF-eligible families than it did in 2010.

About 16.6 percent of Hall residents, or 31,214 individuals, live below the poverty line, which is about $24,000 or less in annual income for a family of four.

As of July 2015, there were 353 TANF cases in Hall County, according to the state Department of Human Services, 321 of which were child-only cases.

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