U.S. Congressman Michael Capuano Joins Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Judyann Bigby in Boston to Hear Success Stories from Transitional Assistance Clients
Real stories from former DTA clients reflect how transitional assistance led to full-time employment
BOSTON — People who used transitional assistance benefits as a bridge to independence today shared their stories and talked about the importance of Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) programs. The event took place at the Newmarket Square Transitional Assistance Office (TAO) in Boston.
Congressman Michael E. Capuano joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby and DTA Commissioner Daniel Curley to hear former DTA clients tell their stories about how the benefits helped in a time of need to support their families and transition to self-sufficiency.
"The SNAP program and others like it are safety nets for so many families, providing a small measure of security during difficult times," said Congressman Capuano. "At the federal level, SNAP program funding is being threatened with devastating cuts, which will hurt many low income Americans. While the federal budget deficit needs to be addressed, that shouldn't happen solely through cuts to programs like SNAP."
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 Newmarket DTA office in Boston serves approximately 29,000 households through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and about 4,400 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.
"Transitional assistance programs have been widely misunderstood and misrepresented," said Secretary Bigby. "That's why it's so important to hear real stories, from people who used these programs as a bridge to help themselves — and create a path to self-sufficiency."
One of many successful employment services programs is the DTA Works Internship Program, a 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 internships at DTA offices to eligible clients enrolled in TAFDC.
"DTA's programs are designed to provide a bridge when people really need it," said Commissioner Curley. "'Today's stories illustrate how creative employment services programming actually leads to a career path and self-sufficiency for clients."
Former DTA clients who are now employed by the Department participated in today's event to share their personal stories.
Betty Garcia was a client intern and is now employed as a case manager at the Newmarket Square TAO. She says, "Assistance from DTA gave me the chance to support people in the same place where I was before. Knowing that I once walked in their shoes helped me to improve my skills. I hope to one day become a supervisor at DTA."
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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