Kansas tightens rules on welfare programs

TOPEKA — A new set of rules announced late today by the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services aims to reduce fraud and abuse in the state’s welfare system.

One change will require people seeking assistance from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program to participate in a job search while they apply for the assistance.

The new policy will also require those seeking temporary assistance or help from the Child Care Assistance program to include the income of unmarried boyfriends or girlfriends to determine whether they’re eligible for the benefits.

Another move aims to stop people from using cash payouts from Vision Cards to buy alcohol, tobacco  and lottery tickets. SRS spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said the state doesn’t track how much money has been used for such purchases. But she said that it is “widespread.”

“We would have to stand in every convenience store in Kansas to figure out how much,” she said.

The changes will begin Oct. 1 and continue to be implemented through the rest of the year.

“The $10 million to $15 million savings accrued from these policy changes will go to strengthening and expanding SRS’ employment programs and getting people to work,” SRS Secretary Rob Siedlecki said in a prepared statement. “Helping people find jobs is our first priority.”