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A correction: Decline in number of people receiving cash assistance

We have a correction to a story we recently aired regarding the declining number of people receiving cash assistance through a particular welfare program in Michigan.

Michigan Radio recently reported on a sharp decline in the number of people receiving aid through the Family Independence Program.    

The program provides cash assistance to families with young children and pregnant women. The program is intended to help with living expenses, like rent and utilities. 

We incorrectly reported time limits as the reason why ten percent were dropped from the program statewide in the fourth quarter of last year.

The 10 percent was actually in the ten counties with the largest declines.

We also incorrectly reported that most of the rest had left the cash assistance program voluntarily. There are many reasons why the other recipients left the program, but only a small percentage of those left voluntarily.

We regret the error.

Here is some additional information from the Michigan League for Human Services:

The latest Economic Security Bulletin from the Michigan League for Human Services shows that most – 75 out of 83 -- counties had a decrease in Family Independence Program (cash assistance) cases in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Overall, FIP cases dropped 24 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the fourth quarter of 2011 with 24 counties showing a drop of more than 25 percent.

The 10 counties with the biggest drop in FIP cases were:

Cass (-45.8 percent)

Lapeer (-42.3 percent)

Montmorency (-39.6 percent)

Delta (-39.4 percent)

Gogebic (-37.6 percent)

Dickinson (-37.5 percent)

Montcalm (-37 percent)

Manistee (-35.3 percent)

St. Joseph (-32.5 percent)

Gratiot (-32.4 percent)

The Department of Humane Services insists the declining number of cases in the Family Independence Program is related to Michigan's improving employment picture. The latest statewide unemployment rate is at its lowest since September, 2008.

Still, the department concedes that not everyone who leaves FIP does so voluntarily. 

Here is a partial list of reasons why a family would exit FIP:

*              Time limit

*             Increased income(earned or unearned)

*             New job

*             Sanction for noncompliance with work related activities

*             Sanction for noncooperation with child support

*             Voluntarily requested

*             Only eligible child turned 18 and graduated from HS

*             Only eligible child 16-18 and not attending school as required.

*             Moved out of State Of Michigan

*             Failed to complete redetermination

*             Failure to provide information required to support eligibility


Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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