Holly J. Mitchell bill to repeal Family Aid cap moves ahead

April 09, 2014

Sacramento – SB 899, introduced by California state Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) to repeal the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) rule in the CalWORKs program, has moved passed its first legislative hurdle. On a party line vote of 3 – 2, the Senate Human Services Committee voted to send the bill forward for further legislative action. 

CalWORKs benefits are normally based, in part, on the number of family members in a household and their living costs. However when a child is born into a family that is already receiving those benefits the MFG rule currently makes it illegal to increase state aid.

"A family with a new mouth to feed can only spread the same dollars so far," said Senator Mitchell, whose district includes parts of south Los Angeles which have high CalWORKs caseloads.

One out of six Californians lived in poverty as of 2011, including nearly one out of four of the children in the state. Children in poverty are statistically more likely to experience homelessness and hunger, become teen parents, or become victims of crime and sex trafficking. Research underscores the biological and economic costs of failing to intervene and prevent the negative impacts of poverty early in children's lives.

"Typically, a family of three only gets $122 more per month than a family of two in the temporary assistance that CalWORKs provides. Research shows that doesn’t make a substantial difference in size-of-family decisions,” observed Senator Mitchell. "Let’s stop making poverty worse for children in a misguided attempt to punish their Moms."

Mitchell carried a similar bill, AB271, while serving in the Assembly last year where it passed before being held in the Senate. SB899 was the first bill Mitchell introduced after her election to the Senate, where the bill now continues its legislative course.