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Louisiana Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program

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The Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP) provides cash assistance to families with children when the financial resources of the family are insufficient to meet subsistence needs. The overall goal of FITAP is to decrease the long term dependency on welfare assistance by promoting job preparation and work. Public assistance is no longer a lifetime benefit but an opportunity to become independent after a financial crisis.

The Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program is authorized by the Social Security Act as amended by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. The Department of Health and Human Services is the federal agency responsible for its administration. The program is administered at the state level by the Department of Social Services, Office of Family Support. Social Services Analysts in the parish offices throughout the state are responsible for processing applications for FITAP, as well as completing redeterminations of eligibility. The issuance of FITAP benefits to eligible households is performed by Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT).

The eligibility factors for FITAP are as follows:

1. Residence - the client must be living in the state, must intend to make a home here and the stay cannot be temporary.

2. Citizenship - the client must be either a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

3. Need - a child must be considered financially needy to be eligible. It is not necessary that a parent be incapacitated, absent or unemployed.

4. Enumeration - all applicants or recipients must provide or apply for a Social Security number for each member of the assistance unit.

5. Age - children must be under the age of 19 to be eligible.

6. Relationship - in order to receive FITAP assistance for a child, an individual must be a qualified relative by meeting certain relationship requirements, i.e., must be related by blood, marriage or adoption.

7. Home - it must be verified that the child actually lives in the same home with the qualified relative.

8. Support Enforcement Services - the client must assign any child support and medical support rights to the state, and must cooperate with the agency's Support Enforcement Services in establishing paternity and obtaining child support and medical support from the absent parent(s), unless good cause has been established.

9. STEP - work eligible applicants and recipients are required to participate in the STEP Program.

10. Resources - the client is ineligible if countable resources of the assistance unit including cash, bank accounts, real property other than home property, etc., exceed $2000. Effective June 1, 2002 all vehicles are exempt.

11. Income - monthly countable income, both earned and unearned, cannot exceed the flat grant amount for the number of persons in the assistance unit. Total countable income is subtracted from the flat grant amount to determine the client's grant amount. The allowable earned income deductions are:

Standard earned income deduction of $120 for each employed member.
Earned Income Exemption of $900 for six months for each employed member.
12. Immunization - sufficient evidence of immunity or immunization against vaccine- preventable diseases according to the Office of Public Health schedule, or evidence that such an immunization program is in progress, must be provided for each recipient under the age of 18.

13. Parenting Skills Training - each recipient who is pregnant or has a child under the age one must attend parenting skills education classes.

14. Time Limits - the family is ineligible to receive assistance if a parent or either parent in a two-parent family has received benefits for 24 of the prior 60 months. There is a 60 month lifetime limit if the assistance unit includes a parent or other caretaker relative.

15. Minor parent restriction - minor unmarried parents and their children must reside in the home of a parent, legal guardian, other adult relative or in an adult-supervised living arrangement in order to qualify for assistance.

16. Recipients age 18 and over must cooperate in screening for the use of illegal drugs, and, if necessary, drug testing, education and rehabilitation.

Effective January 1997 the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program is funded by the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Block Grant.

During State Fiscal Year 02-03, an average of 20,157 grants were paid each month. Benefits totaling $48,433,795 were paid during the year, a monthly average of $4,036,150.

The average family consists of a mother and two children. The average grant in Louisiana is $200 per month. 86% of all FITAP recipients in Louisiana are non-white and 14% are white.

(Chart omitted)
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