Welfare Cap On Kids Needs To Go

Originally posted by The Boston Globe as a Letter to the Editor. 

Kudos for taking a stand in your editorial “Cap on kids a failed welfare experience” (March 7). Massachusetts — it is embarrassing to say — is only one in 17 states that still has a similar welfare policy discriminating against children’s rights. This affects almost 9,000 children in the Commonwealth who do not receive benefits to assist in their support and development.

Given that family welfare benefits are already very low, it is critical for families to be able to expect at least the addition of $100 monthly to support another child. The cap is a penalizing and moralistic form of limiting family income that causes harmful consequences to these children and their siblings and additional stress to often single parents or those with disabled spouses.

As Deborah A. Frank, director of the Grow Clinic for Children at Boston Medical Center put it, “[Family cap] children are undernourished not because of acts of God, but acts of legislation. Malnourished children increase health costs in the short term and jeopardize Massachusetts’ future work force in the long term.”

This is Massachusetts’ opportunity to take the lead once again in progressive and positive family support policies and eliminating such moralistic ones as the family cap. It is encouraging to see such support in the Legislature, and hopefully Governor Charlie Baker will see the light as well to eliminate this regressive measure.

Mary Byrne


The writer is professor emerita in social work at Salem State University.