Jun 1, 2007

A big hole in the safety net: Ohio’s TANF funding, Part 5

Additional benefits that OWF families may receive

Most OWF families are also eligible to receive Medicaid and Food Stamps. County Job and Family Services offices offer a wide variety of emergency and employment support assistance through the Prevention, Retention and Contingency (PRC) program, based on each county’s individualized plan.

Fewer than 7 percent of OWF families receive subsidized housing assistance.

Families with children under the age of five and pregnant women may receive help through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. The average benefit is $34 per month and goes toward nutritious food.

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) offers financial aid for heating costs. The average benefit is $296 per heating season. The Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) offers low income consumers of regulated utilities an extended payment plan to reduce the high cost of energy during the heating season. There is no subsidy in the program and low income families participating are over $530 million in debt to utility companies in electrical services alone.

There are a number of local services such as food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters intended to provide help in “emergency” situations. Unfortunately, many OWF and working poor families have been forced to rely on them on a regular, recurring basis. Only about 25 percent of OWF families receive child care services. While beneficial, these services can’t bridge the gap between OWF benefit levels and the basic needs of these families.

--Jack Frech

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