Congressman Richard Neal Joins Health and Human Services Secretary Bigby in Holyoke to Hear Success Stories from Transitional Assistance Clients
Real stories reflect the impact of transitional assistance and its role helping individuals and families move toward employment and independence
HOLYOKE — People who rely on transitional assistance benefits as a bridge to success today shared their stories and talked about the importance of the programs at the Holyoke Transitional Assistance Office.
Congressman Richard Neal joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby and Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) Commissioner Daniel Curley to hear current and former DTA clients tell their stories about how the benefits have helped in a time of need to support their families and transition to self-sufficiency.
"These important programs provide relief to literally thousands of our neighbors in western Massachusetts who are in need,” said Congressman Neal. “Every family should have a healthy and nutritious diet, and transitional assistance gives local residents that opportunity and prevents them from going hungry. They also find work for people who are unemployment, and in the process, help improve their quality of life. These critical services provide a safety net for families, and I look forward to hearing their personal success stories.”
“With all of the misinformation out there, it’s so important to hear the real stories, from people who truly need these programs,” said Secretary Bigby. “We know that transitional assistance is about helping people help themselves — and it creates a path to self-sufficiency for so many families across Massachusetts.”
DTA provides food and cash assistance to thousands of people across Massachusetts, and both types of benefits are issued via Electronic Benefit Transfer cards (EBT). The Holyoke DTA office serves approximately 15,300 households through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and about 2,700 households through the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) programs.
SNAP assists low-income individuals and families to buy food, and the average monthly benefit is $235. TAFDC and EAEDC give very low-income families and disabled people the ability to meet their immediate and basic needs such as housing, child care, transportation, and employment and educational needs.
One of many successful employment services programs is DTA Works, a part-time, transitional employment program that DTA developed to help clients receiving transitional assistance gain career skills and transition to full-time work. The program is an innovative initiative that provides internship opportunities to clients with barriers to employment and little or no work experience.
“Assistance from DTA helped me to start my career in public service,” says former DTA Works intern Tomasa Martinez, who is now employed at the Springfield State Street Transitional Assistance Office. “It gave my kids and me the opportunity to have a better life.”
Several current and former DTA clients who have worked with DTA employment service providers participated in today’s event to share their personal stories.
“DTA programs are designed to provide a bridge when people really need it,” said Commissioner Curley. “’Today’s stories illustrate how DTA’s collaboration with employee services providers actually leads to employment and self-sufficiency for clients.”
Strengthening Program Integrity
In 2008, the Patrick-Murray Administration created a Program Integrity Unit at the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) that recovers millions of dollars each year. Just last year, the unit recovered roughly $4 million from current and former recipients for both intentional and unintentional violations. Since the Program Integrity Unit launched, DTA has recovered $28M.
Governor Patrick also signed into law prohibitions on the purchase of alcohol, tobacco, and lottery tickets with cash benefits and convened a bi-partisan EBT Commission which reported its recommendations to the Legislature to inform addition program integrity efforts in the state budget.
Program integrity is essential because it means our limited resources will have a greater impact and more people will be able to get back on their feet.
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