Human Services

WASHINGTON, D.C.—When CSG’s 2014 chairman Mark Norris talks about the State Pathways to Prosperity initiative, he says “it’s something like awakening the sleeping giant.” Norris, the Tennessee Senate majority leader, spoke at The Council of State Governments 2014 Leadership Council meeting in June.

The Missouri House and Senate have both passed a bill that will lift the restriction on persons with drug felony convictions from receiving food stamps, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports. Missouri is one of the last nine states – with Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming – to...

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In response to reports that adopted children were being placed in the care of abusive adults, Wisconsin legislators have adopted a first-in-the-nation measure that cracks down on a practice sometimes referred to as “re-homing.”

Maine is moving ahead with its plan to put photos on the state’s electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards used for food stamps and cash assistance, according to the Bangor Daily News.

The state has started a voluntary pilot project in Bangor to test the program before full implementation in the summer. Letters went out to those using the cards, asking them to trade in their old...

April 2014 ~ Stateline Midwest

Since 1996, states have had the authority under federal law to require welfare recipients to undergo drug testing.In recent years, more and more legislatures have given serious consideration to using this authority, including a handful of states in the Midwest. Kansas and Minnesota are among the nine U.S. states with drug-testing laws already in place, and according to the Center for Law and Social Policy, at least 30 states considered bills last year (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and North Dakota among them).

Children continue to be the poorest age group in America. Child poverty remained at record high levels in 2012, with more than 1 in 5 children identified as poor. This poverty leads to student achievement gaps, reductions in readiness for school, increased absenteeism, and developmental delays. Poor children also are less likely to complete high school - limiting potential employability and economic success in the future, and leading to poverty as an adult.

This week I was privileged to join with 40 experts in the field of elder justice gathered in Washington, D.C. to put the finishing touches on a national road map to guide programs and services to address elder justice issues – preventing elder abuse, providing services for victims of elder abuse in all its forms, and building systems for prosecution of abuse, sexual assault and financial exploitation.  CSG was invited to the meeting to bring the perspective of state level policy makers to the...

The more education a person attains, the better the chance he or she will get a job, earn a living, support a family, pay taxes and contribute to the community in which he or she lives.
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Rep. Hans Zeiger introduced legislation in Washington that would apply the concept of social impact bonds to state human services projects and programs.

House Bill 2337 would create a 14-member Washington Social Investment Committee, made up of legislators, financial and philanthropic experts as well as social scientists. No later than December 1, 2014, the steering committee would develop an implementation plan for at least one pilot program that uses social impact bonds or other public-private financing mechanisms to finance and deliver prevention-focused social or health care services. The bill received its first hearing yesterday before the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee.

“The old bureaucratic models of solving problems have too often fallen short; we need to embrace creativity and innovation as we seek to address some of the most difficult issues before us,” Rep. Zeiger said in a press release. “It is time we engage the private sector in solving some of our biggest public problems. Potentially, investors could receive a return based on the success of the program in solving a problem and reducing costs to the state.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott campaigned on the issue of mandatory drug testing for parents enrolled in welfare. Almost as soon as the law was signed in 2011, U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven put the law on hold. Gov. Scott appealed the preliminary injunction, but a three judge panel concurred.

Now Scriven has ruled the law unconstitutional, the Miami Herald reports. In her 30-page summary judgment issued Dec. 31, she wrote "there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied."

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