APHSA opposes SNAP work section, end of broad-based categorical eligibility | TheFencePost.com

APHSA opposes SNAP work section, end of broad-based categorical eligibility

-The Hagstrom Report

As part of a detailed reaction to the nutrition title of the farm bill that the House Agriculture Committee has passed, the American Public Human Services Association has come out in opposition to the "work solutions" section that imposes work requirements on Supplemental Nutrition Association beneficiaries and calls upon the states to find them jobs or train them.

"Without further debate and amendment, we cannot offer support at this time for a number of the provisions in the work solutions section of the bill as currently outlined," said APHSA, a bipartisan, nonprofit organization representing state and local health and human services agencies.

"The workforce solutions section of the bill contains by far the most complex, contentious and speculative elements of this proposed legislation," the group said.

"Member states will have differences of opinion on the mandatory requirements for SNAP E&T (employment and training) based on the fact that under current state options, they run both mandatory and voluntary programs and sometimes a combination of both. They also have the latitude to enforce compliance through sanctions and some do so currently.

"States also want the flexibility to design programs and interventions according to their labor markets, available employment opportunities, and what interventions in skill development will be most suitable for employers and potential workers. They recognize that employers in their states and communities must increasingly drive appropriate training either on site through apprenticeships and on-the-job training or curriculum development with community colleges and others.

"What states do not want or need to be effective are highly prescriptive instructions and rigid, administratively cumbersome federal reporting requirements that often measure the wrong performance indicators and divert staff time from focusing on getting people employed."

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APHSA also said removing the option to allow low-income people to qualify for SNAP through broad-based categorical eligibility "is troubling, as it will reinstate a new benefit cliff and limit state flexibility."

The group also said that while it "understands the rationale for proposing mandatory child support cooperation for both custodial and non-custodial parents participating in SNAP, doing so will pose both new system and administrative problems for states."

"Ideally, both parents should contribute to their children economically and socially and in SNAP they do to a large degree, as child support orders are already in place for the majority of SNAP families.

"Hence we have serious reservations about the time it would take to implement this provision, the significant systems cost it would require, the caseload burdens it would place on an already overstretched IV-D system, whether or not it would actually increase child support payments, and the fact that it almost certainly will result in otherwise eligible needy families losing SNAP benefits and jeopardizing their food security."

APHSA also indicated support for many sections of the nutrition title and proposed amendments to others.