Thursday, September 30, 2004

State hasn't decided how to spend $431M for poor

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - The state hasn't decided how to spend $431 million given to it by the federal government for the poor, angering some county officials who work with needy families.

The money in the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families account hasn't been spent because the state and counties haven't devised programs upon which to use it.

Jack Frech, Athens County's human services director, says the money should be used to increase the monthly grants for families on cash assistance.

"These folks are making ungodly decisions every day between these kinds of basic necessities in life while the state of Ohio sits on a huge pile of money that Congress specifically sent down here to help those very families," Frech said.

But Tom Hayes, director of the Department of Job & Family Services, described Frech's proposal as counterproductive and said the money should be spent on programs to help the poor find jobs.

"What's going to help them in the long run is to deal with whatever barriers they have, to help them move toward employment and out of poverty," he said.

The state is evaluating what types of programs will most efficiently distribute Ohio's TANF grant each year, said Hayes' chief of staff, China Widener.

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