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New Bill Would Take Away Welfare Benefits If Child Under 16 Is Truant


LANSING, MI (WTVB) - A State House committee headed up by Ken Kurtz of Coldwater has sent to the full House legislation where families of students who repeatedly skip school would be at risk of losing welfare benefits. 

The measure is designed to codify current policies of the Department of Human Services. Under the bill, the family of a student, younger than 16, who's truant could lose its cash benefits through the Family Independence Program. If a child who's 16 or older is truant, the child would be removed from the program. The House Families, Children and Seniors Committee voted along party lines, 6-3, Wednesday to move the bill to the House floor. According to MIRS, Kurtz said the measure was about accountability, adding that the positive actions they’re now taking have to continue, and if they follow through on this legislation, the DHS will be held accountable too.

DHS Deputy Director Terrence Beurer testified that the department has taken steps to proactively fight truancy. Employees, he said, reach out to families that run the risk of having truant students and try to resolve issues that could be causing the truancy. Ray Holman, legislative liaison for United Auto Workers Local 6000, spoke against the proposal. Holman, whose union represents 17,000 state workers, said the measure is punitive and they think the Human Services department should be in the business of reaching out and helping struggling families.