Ensure Low-Income Parents Can Access Education As a Path Out of Poverty

The Aid to Dependent Children program provides critical support to very low-income families and has the goal of helping families achieve economic security as quickly as possible.  A key part of the program is that all adults must participate in a work activity for at least 30 hours a week.  Currently, parents participating in Nebraska’s ADC program may pursue an Associate’s Degree as their core work activity for up to 36 months.  LB 842 would continue this important policy until 2016.

[DDET LB 842 Testimony] Senator Cathy Campbell
Chair, Health and Human Services Committee
State Capitol, Room 1510
Lincoln, NE 68509

Re: Support LB 842

Dear Senator Campbell and Members of the Health and Human Services Committee,

My name is Becky Gould and I am the Executive Director at Nebraska Appleseed. Nebraska Appleseed is a non-partisan, non-profit, public interest law firm that works for equal justice and full opportunity for all Nebraskans. We are here to testify in support of LB 842.

I want to thank Senator Harms for introducing LB 842 and continuing to work on ensuring low-income parents can access education as a path out of poverty.

The Aid to Dependent Children program provides critical support to very low-income families and has the goal of helping families achieve economic security as quickly as possible. A key part of the program is that all adults must participate in a work activity for at least 30 hours a week. Currently, parents participating in Nebraska’s ADC program may pursue an Associate’s Degree as their core work activity for up to 36 months. LB 842 would continue this important policy until 2016.

Nebraska Appleseed has been a long-time proponent of education as a pathway out of poverty, from advocating to include post-secondary education as a work activity in the Nebraska Welfare Reform Act, to defending the right to education for ADC recipients before the Nebraska Supreme Court. As a result of policies like LB 842, Nebraska is a leader among states in supporting education for low-income parents.

We support this strategy so strongly because it works. A Washington University study found that achieving a post-secondary credential is the “tipping point” for long-term economic stability. In Nebraska, Associate’s Degree holders earn $4,303 more per year than those without a high school diploma and earn on average $30,576 per year, which is considered a self-sufficient wage for a single parent with a school aged child here in Nebraska.

Right now 527 low-income Nebraska parents – 13.3% of the ADC caseload- are pursuing an Associates Degree and ultimately a job that will provide economic security. These parents will not only be able to support their families but in most cases will leave public assistance for the long-term.

This progress is being made at no additional cost to the state and in the long run, will save state dollars by reducing the number of families that return to public assistance in the future. Additionally, as a state we have continued to remain in compliance
with federal work requirements due to a combination of a strong participation in work activities by participants in the program and state investments in low-income programs.

LB 842 is fiscally responsible and common sense policy that truly helps move families out of poverty for the long-term and therefore we ask you to advance LB 842.
Sincerely,

NEBRASKA APPLESEED

Rebecca L. Gould
Executive Director
[/DDET]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *