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Government

Kansas Agency Criticized For Mockery Response

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The state Department for Children and Families is catching heat for social media comments that critics say were too partisan.

On its Facebook page Friday, the Kansas DCF accused the left of "mocking the State of Kansas" and said it has "stood in the way of progress."

The post defended restrictions approved by the Legislature in April on how welfare recipients can spend their money.

The Facebook post:

The State of Kansas has been unfairly criticized recently for passing the Kansas HOPE Act, even though 83 percent of Americans support policies that require welfare recipients to work and an overwhelming majority of Kansas lawmakers agree. One of the most recent attacks comes from the Wichita Eagle’s editorial board. We hope you will have the opportunity to read why welfare to work policies are effective and those who receive benefits should be required to use the funds as intended—to obtain basic necessities. A recent Wichita Eagle editorial criticizes the just-passed Kansas HOPE Act. Should the Governor sign this legislation into law, it will make permanent existing Kansas Department for Children and Families( DCF) welfare to work policies that have been in place for several years. These effective policies have helped drastically reduce welfare rolls and resulted in more than 6,000 Kansans obtaining employment—just within the last year. A Rasmussen study found that 83 percent of Americans favor a work requirement with welfare benefits. What should receive even greater support than welfare to work policies is a policy that prohibits the use of taxpayer-funded benefits for welfare recipients to spend their cash assistance on luxury items that some taxpayers can’t even afford—such as cruises and trips to the tattoo parlor or nail shop. Those who oppose this commonsense policy change fundamentally oppose welfare reform. It should be noted in 2012, under President Obama, the federal government mandated restrictions on cash assistance to prohibit EBT card use at liquor stores, gaming or gambling establishments and adult entertainment venues. DCF absolutely supports healthy families and activities to enrich their relationships. No one is banning a low-income family from going to a swimming pool. The Kansas HOPE Act simply says your welfare benefits are there to help you temporarily obtain the basic necessities for your family. Basic necessities include shelter, utilities, food, diapers, etc. While the left is actively mocking the State of Kansas for passing legislation that protects taxpayer dollars and encourages personal responsibility, these are the same individuals who have since 1996, stood in the way of progress, keeping low-income Kansans dependent on assistance. This Administration is helping people by walking alongside them to give them the skills and support they need to find and keep good-paying jobs so they no longer need to count on welfare benefits to pay their bills. If you don’t take our word for it, talk to Valerie Cahill. A former Kansas welfare benefits recipient. She’s now a full-time worker who is enjoying a life of self-sufficiency. These are her words when she testified in support of the Kansas HOPE Act on March 4: “I received a letter for DCF that in essence stated I needed to participate in the Work Training Program. My initial thought: I don’t need these people to tell me how to work. I’ve worked all my life, I know how to do that. But, I didn’t have a job. What I know is this, when I entered the classroom for the first time, I saw people who were not like me, and I became even more frustrated. I heard a woman say, “everyone is this room is no different from anyone else in this room. We are all on TANF, and we all need a job.” The work program, along with Strategic Training Solutions, hand in hand did this for me. It is my personal belief that to ensure our children a chance at survival, it is necessary, imperative that a law be passed mandating that in order to receive any benefits from the State, you must participate. For me, it’s very simple, you can live or you can just exist.” Posted by Kansas Department for Children and Families on Friday, April 10, 2015

The bill barred welfare recipients from spending cash assistance at adult-oriented businesses, including swimming pools, movie theaters, nail salons, tattoo parlors or psychics' and fortune tellers' businesses.

The measure attracted national attention, and has been criticized by politicans and also comedians like Jon Stewart as unnecessary and demeaning to poor people.

DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed said the post was an appropriate response pointing out facts to "liberal media organizations and activists."

She noted thousands of welfare recipients have found jobs under the program.

Governor Sam Brownback is expected to sign the restrictions.