Women granted continuation of welfare benefits

by Max Rust

Two students fighting for their welfare rights will not have to forfeit portions of their welfare grants while their case is heard in the Minnesota Department of Human Services appeals process.
The women will retain their full welfare grants, including funds for child-care referee hearing the case, according to an agreement reached between department officials and the women last week.
In exchange, the women will withdraw their motion intended to secure their grants, but will be able to reinstate the motion if the decision is not in their favor.
LaShunda Phillips and Mary Roe filed a lawsuit earlier this month after state officials said they would not be entitled to receive their full welfare grants while they participated in a University program.
The Student Parent Minnesota Family Investment Program is designed to move welfare recipients to University civil-service jobs by providing the necessary education and training.
Minnesota Department of Human Services officials say the program appears to offer too much education and want to reduce the participants’ welfare grants. Under Minnesota welfare laws, welfare to work programs cannot have educational components — like training — that last more than two years.
However, the program, which began earlier this year, is designed to last no more than 21 months, program organizers said.
If the referee decides the state is correct, the women’s welfare grants will be reduced and they will lose their child-care funds. The women can then decide whether or not to continue the program without child care, a move that would be financially difficult.
However, lawyers for the students said they will appeal the decision to Ramsey County if the referee doesn’t rule in their favor.
Barbara Kuhn, a lawyer representing the students, said the agreement will ensure that the women do not lose portions of their grants until the case is heard.
“By agreeing to this, our clients are protected while they pursue their legal rights,” Kuhn said.

Max Rust covers community and welcomes comments at [email protected].