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Vitale, Rice Legislation to Repeal Family Caps Under WorkFirst New Jersey Program Advances

Trenton – In an effort to reverse the harmful impact of the WorkFirst New Jersey Act’s family cap, the Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senators Joseph Vitale and Ronald Rice, which would permanently repeal the provision that prohibits a household from gaining additional cash assistance benefits as a result of the birth of a child.

“According to New Jersey Policy Perspective, in the last 28 years over 20,000 children have been denied the public assistance that they so desperately need as a result of the family cap,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “For families living in poverty, cost increases have created more hardship, and it is clear that the program currently in place bars the assistance they should be receiving. It is imperative that we do not ignore the needs of any child born into a low-income family any longer.”

The bill, S-2178, would allow families that receive cash assistance benefits to apply for additional benefits if the birth of another child occurs. Currently, the law prevents an increase in the amount of cash assistance for the birth of a newborn unless the child is born 10 months after initially applying for benefits or the birth is a result of rape or incest. The law also has exceptions for families with a working parent and for children born to minors.

“Under current law, many children are not counted and families are made more vulnerable without the additional assistance they need,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “By removing the family cap, our state can work towards reducing the high childhood poverty rates in New Jersey and better support our families to working to achieve financial stability.”

This bill passed the Senate by a vote of 24-14.