Assembly Passes Holly Mitchell's Repeal of Cap on Family Aid

May 30, 2013

AB 271 would lift cap on aid for CalWORKs families which have more children

Sacramento - Assemblymember Holly J. Mitchell's bill to repeal the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) rule in the CalWORKs program, AB 271, has been passed on a bipartisan vote of the Assembly. CalWORKs benefits are normally based, in part, on the number of family members in a household – except when a child is born into a family that is already receiving those benefits.

The cap makes poverty worse by forcing families to spread meager resources even thinner, maintained Assemblywoman Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), whose district includes parts of south Los Angeles which have high CalWORKs caseloads. The state shouldn't insert itself into the private reproductive and medical decisions of families who are poor and need basic assistance for their children.

The MFG policy was first proposed in Proposition 165, a welfare reform and budget powers initiative placed on the ballot in 1992 and rejected by voters, 54-46%. Nonetheless as part of the budget package signed by Gov. Pete Wilson in 1994, the MFG policy became law.

In the 15 years since the family cap became state policy, there is still no evidence that it has worked to disincentivize welfare abuse or to slow the birthrates of affected families. Yet 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, 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.

Assumptions that poor women have children to ‘get rich' couldn't be farther from the truth and it's tragic that state policy perpetuates that myth, said Mitchell. This is a chance for us to set the record straight.

Passed on a vote of 44 to 16, the bill now proceeds to the Senate for passage.

Contact:  Charles Stewart, (310) 482-1070