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Bridge to Benefits: Helping Families Improve Economic Stability by Enrolling in Public Programs. C HILDREN’S D EFENSE F UND M INNESOTA. Children’s Defense Fund. Nonpartisan, nonprofit organization CDF does not seek nor accept any government funds MN is one of 13 state and regional offices

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Bridge to Benefits:Helping Families Improve Economic Stability by Enrolling in Public Programs

CHILDREN’S DEFENSE FUND MINNESOTA


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Children’s Defense Fund

  • Nonpartisan, nonprofit organization

    • CDF does not seek nor accept any government funds

    • MN is one of 13 state and regional offices

  • The mission of the Children’s Defense Fund is to Leave No Child Behind and to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.


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CDF Minnesota Initiatives

Legislative Advocacy:

  • Health Care

  • Child Care

  • Minimum Wage

  • Outreach:

  • Bridge to Benefits

  • Research & Education:

  • MN KIDS COUNT Data Book


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What is Bridge to Benefits?

  • Multi-state project by CDF-MN to improve the well-being of families and individuals by linking them to public work support programs and tax credits

    • Health Care Programs (MinnesotaCare, Medical Assistance, GAMC)

    • Food Support

    • School Meal Program (free/reduced-priced school breakfast & lunch)

    • Energy Assistance Program

    • Child Care Assistance Program

    • WIC Program

    • Tax Credits (EITC and WFC)

  • Relies on an online eligibility screening tool

    • www.bridgetobenefits.org


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What is Bridge to Benefits?

  • Addresses underutilization of programs

    • Energy Assistance: 70% of eligible households are not enrolled

    • Health Care: 22% of eligible persons are not enrolled in MNCare or MA

    • Child Care Assistance: 76% of eligible children are not enrolled

    • Food Support: 41% of eligible persons are not enrolled

    • School Meal Program: 28% of eligible children are not enrolled

    • WIC: 20% of eligible families are not enrolled

    • EITC & WFC: 18% of eligible households are not claiming

  • Includes work support programs and tax credits that were created to help low-income workers meet basic needs

    • Target families making above 100% FPG

    5. Helps overcome barriers to participation: lack of awareness, complex application process, literacy, language, transportation, stigma, etc.


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Bridge to Benefits Goals

  • Increase awareness and participation in public work support programs

  • Improve economic stability and well-being of working families

  • Promote healthy child development

  • Help families navigate program rules and discover the easiest way to apply

  • Assist service providers by forming a “network of support,” making sure families are receiving all the help available

  • Strengthen communities by bringing in more federal and state dollars


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Potential Impact

  • At the current participation rate, the EITC lifts 4 million people (including 2.4 million children) out of poverty nationally each year

    • Millions more federal dollars would

      flow into the Minnesota economy

      (current annual amounts)

      • Energy Assistance = $145 million

      • EITC = $463 million

      • Child Care Assistance = $96 million

      • Food Support = $318 million

      • School Meal = $109 million

      • MinnesotaCare = $127 million


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The Impact on One Family

  • Consider this family of five:

    • 2 working parents

    • 1 child in 1st grade

    • 1 preschooler

    • 1 infant

Their income is $31,000 a year

(125% FPG in 2008)

$7.45 per hour or 90¢ more per hour than 2008 minimum wage


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Impact On The Family’s Budget

NOTE: Values are approximated and may vary by family circumstances.


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The Family Budget

  • This family makes $2,583 each month

  • Without any public programs/tax credits, they are more than $900 short each month trying to cover the costs of child care, health care and their food budget

    • Does not include housing, clothing or transportation costs, much less savings

  • After enrolling in public programs/claiming tax credits, their remaining monthly balance is $2,429

  • An additional $370/month can have positive impacts on children’s cognitive, social and behavioral development


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Bridge to Benefits Outreach Plan

  • Create a screening tool (www.bridgetobenefits.org) to help families determine potential eligibility for work support programs and tax credits.

  • Recruit “Screening Organizations” that work with low-income families to use the screening tool on a regular basis to help clients.

  • Recruit “Application Assistance Organizations” that assist families with applying to public programs and accept email referrals from Screening Organizations.


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2009 Outreach DataJanuary 1 - December 31, 2009

  • 9,029 screens

  • 26,081 family members affected

  • 94% of families screened were potentially eligible for at least one program

  • Families that were eligible and interested in programs:

    • Health Care programs: 74%

    • Energy Assistance Program: 67%

    • Food Support: 46%

    • Child Care Assistance: 32%

    • School Meal Program: 26%


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Online Screening Tool

  • A simple and quick tool designed to help families and individuals understand if they are eligible for seven public work support programs and two income tax credits.Screens a variety of family types.

    • Energy Assistance

    • Health Care coverage

      • GAMC

      • Medical Assistance

      • MinnesotaCare

    • Child Care Assistance

    • Food Support

    • School Meals

    • Earned Income Tax Credit

    • Working Family Credit

http://www.bridgetobenefits.org


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So, How Does It Work?


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CHILDREN’S DEFENSE FUND MINNESOTA

555 Park Street, Suite 410

St. Paul, MN 55103

651-227-6121 www.cdf-mn.org

www.bridgetobenefits.org

Elaine Cunningham, Outreach Directorcunningham@cdf-mn.org / 651-855-1176Ryan Johnson, Outreach Specialistjohnson@cdf-mn.org / 651-855-1175


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