Children on assistance eligible for $200 in back-to-school aid
Local children receiving food stamps or cash welfare benefits are going to receive an extra $200 from the state to help with back to school expenses.
Genesee County is receiving $345,800 for the program through the state as part of the federal economic stimulus program.
As many as 1,700 local children will be eligible, Social Services Commissioner Eileen Kirkpatrick told WBTA (listen).
Assemblyman Steve Hawley expressed concern about the program, telling WBTA that there are no restrictions on the handouts and that, for example, a family with five children will get $1,000 and mom or dad will be able to do with that money whatever they please.
Eligible families will start receiving the school credit as early as today in electronic deposits.
During a news conference Brooks said the county had turned up evidence the money was being used to buy flat screen TVs, cell phones, gaming systems and other luxury supplies – not back to school items. Brooks says retailers like Walmart, Wegmans and Tops notified the county of this activity soon after the money was distributed. Brooks says she’s disturbed but not surprised. “When you hand out $200 per child cash to a family with no strings attached, no requirements for spending it are we really surprised that people are buying flat screen TVs, iPods, Xboxes,” asked Brooks.