News and analysis from The Center for Michigan • http://thecenterformichigan.net
©2015 Bridge Michigan. All Rights Reserved. • Join us online at http://bridgemi.com

Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2012/08/center-for-michigan-bridge-win-battle-for-transparency-on-welfare-records/

Public sector/Vulnerable children & families

Center for Michigan, Bridge win battle for transparency on welfare records

Bridge Magazine and the Center for Michigan prevailed in a Freedom of Information Act appeal, gaining access to records related to Michigan residents removed from cash assistance as a result of the state’s massive welfare reform.

In May, Bridge requested data from the Michigan Department of Human Services documenting how many of the more than 13,000 families removed from cash assistance because of newly enforced lifetime caps had reapplied for assistance. “Timed-out” families were allowed to re-apply because of a lawsuit working its way through the courts.

DHS denied Bridge Magazine’s request, claiming it “does not possess records falling within the scope of the description provided in your request, or by another name.” In other words, DHS implied that the records Bridge wanted didn’t exist.

But lawyers representing DHS produced almost identical records within days of the denial, offering them in court as part of a lawsuit.

Confronted with the records it said didn’t exist, DHS reversed its FOIA denial and gave Bridge a two-inch-thick stack of documents. According to those newly released documents:

*  8,856 families knocked off cash assistance because of time limits had re-applied for benefits, as of July 15.

*  Of those applications, 39 percent had been processed as of July 15.

*  Of those applications processed, two-thirds were approved for renewed benefits while the court case challenging the policy is being resolved, and one-third were denied.

UPDATE: Latest figures from DHS (provided Aug. 14)

“We’re grateful for DHS’ eventual cooperation with our information request,” said John Bebow, president of the Center for Michigan. “It’s a win for the cause of open and transparent government.”

Senior Writer Ron French joined Bridge in 2011 after having won more than 40 national and state journalism awards since he joined the Detroit News in 1995. French has a long track record of uncovering emerging issues and changing the public policy debate through his work. In 2006, he foretold the coming crisis in the auto industry in a special report detailing how worker health-care costs threatened to bankrupt General Motors.

1 comment from a Bridge reader.Add mine!

  1. Big D

    So what’s the conclusion you reach with the information you got?

    …how about, of 13,000 removed from the welfare rolls, 32% didn’t bother to reapply. Why? Perhaps they didn’t hear that they could. or perhaps they didn’t think they’d qualify. Got a job? Of the applications processed by DHS, one-third didn’t qualify…implies there could be 4000+ of the original 13000 that didn’t qualify…4000+ unqualified welfare recipients. Who woulda thought.

    This comment warrants a “warning” from the Truth Squad…idle speculation.

Leave your comment...

Your email address will not be published.

Currently on Bridge

Will we be better off if Proposal 1 passes? Former treasurer says yes

An Earth Day pitch: When you hang up the phone for good, toss it the right way

Michigan’s roads affect everyone, so a 'yes' vote on Proposal 1 makes sense

‘Diplomacy Begins Here’ conference aims to illuminate international relations

What NOT to post on Facebook: Jokes about prison rape, when you’re in charge of preventing prison rape

A program to give young offenders a second chance is sending many to prison

Similar accounts in suit over alleged teen prison rapes pose challenge to state's defense

‘New fish’ ‒ One teen inmate’s account of alleged sexual assault

Early learning summit in June could impact Michigan’s children

Money Smart Week: Be penny wise, and pound savvier

Plan B or no Plan B, here’s what happens if road proposal fails

The political tale behind the selling of Proposal 1

A Bridge primer: Untangling the pothole promise of Proposal 1

Who supports, and opposes, Proposal 1

Let's rebuild Michigan through its greatest asset: its water

Could a public boarding school model work in Detroit?

Coalition supporting Detroit schools a step in the city’s road back

Chasing fads? Today’s schools are struggling too much for that

For one Michigan legislative staffer, an hour or two in the spotlight

A cull is a kill, and it’s an overreaction to deer ‘problem’

Lack of college guidance keeps poor and rural students from applying

Those who can, do – and get their hands ‘dirty’ in the process

For one Detroit mom, a complicated path to employment

Detroit by the numbers – the truth about poverty

Michigan should require dental screening for all children entering kindergarten

Where in the world is the Center for Michigan?

After two years, hard to call ACA anything but a success

Bridge’s Academic State Champs emphasizes all the wrong measurements

A graying population poses challenges for Up North counties

Up North, isolation impedes health care for seniors

Enbridge oil pipes and the Straits of Mackinac: Too risky to ignore

Not bigger government, but better services when Community Health and Human Services merge

Two Michigans gaze across a widening gap

In northern counties, workers and business find each other lacking

Hidden poverty stalks a Pure Michigan setting

Postcard: How a git-’er-done spirit helps one rural school district

Postcard: When elk is for dinner

Postcard: Luxe life at Bay Harbor reflects changing economy

Postcard: A roof and a bed

Invest in non-partisan journalism.

Donate to The Center for Michigan. Find out why.