Caswell Works To Ensure That Childrens Clothing Allowance Actually Buys Clothes

Monday, April 18, 2011

LANSING – Last week, Senator Bruce Caswell presented his proposal for the Department of Human Services (DHS) budget, which included a provision that the state would issue gift cards for the clothing allowance for children that receive state assistance.

Under the current system, DHS issues each year, on average, an additional $80 to a child’s parents’ Bridge Card for the clothing allowance.  However, once deposited on the card, the state has no way to ensure that parents actually spend the clothing allowance money on clothing for their child.

Senator Caswell initially proposed issuing a gift card for the clothing allowance for resale shops in order to ensure the money would actually go toward purchasing clothing.  After a suggestion from a constituent, he plans to draft an amendment to the proposal that would direct the state to work with major retailers to create a gift card program that would ensure the clothing allowance money only purchases clothing and shoes at their stores.  Furthermore, the amendment will direct DHS to negotiate with the retailers for a discount on those clothing items purchased with the allowance in order to get the best deal for the recipients.

“My sole goal in this proposal is to make sure that children receive the clothing allowance that the state has provided for them and not have it used for anything else,” said Caswell.  “I believe this solution will go a long way to achieving that objective.  If anyone else has a better idea on how we can ensure the money goes for clothing alone, I very much welcome those suggestions and urge you to share your ideas with me.  I appreciate the input I have already received that has resulted in making the proposal better.”

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