Policy Links School Attendance, Welfare Benefits
LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A new policy taking effect on Oct. 1 means Michigan parents whose children don’t attend school could lose welfare cash benefits.
Starting Monday, the Michigan Department of Human Services will require children ages 6-15 to attend school full-time to keep their family eligible for cash benefits.
A student is considered truant in Michigan when he or she has 10 or more unexcused absences per school year. For the 2011-12 school year, 93,408 cases of truancy were reported in Michigan schools, an increase of nearly 10,000 from the previous year, which had 83,491, The Detroit News reported.
If a child doesn’t attend school, the entire family could become ineligible. Current policy requires attendance for children ages 16-17 and doesn’t cut aid if a student is truant.
“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.”
The policy change was prompted by Gov. Rick Snyder, who called earlier this year for a crackdown on truancy at schools. The change takes effect two days before Michigan’s fall Count Day, when attendance is used to determine most of a school district’s per-pupil funding from the state.
The policy is expected to affect most of the state’s 59,000 welfare cash-assistance cases and its roughly 162,000 recipients, who will now be required to prove school enrollment and attendance for any of their children when they apply for aid.
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