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Crow Wing County study shows time spent on cash assistance is short

A survey by the Crow Wing County Community Services Department shows the majority of families in the county receiving cash assistance through the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) received cash benefits for less than six months during the 60-month study time period.

During the five-year period from 2008 through 2012, data shows 1,109 families received MFIP. Of that number, 76 percent received cash benefits for less than 12 months while 51.5 percent were recipients for less than six months. Thirteen percent were on for one month or less. Only 4.25 percent of the families received cash assistance for more than 30 months.

On average, 199 families received a grant each month. The study also shows that the average grant received was $695, $77 below the state average of $772. The average household size in Crow Wing County was also under the state average — 2.82 compared to 3.05.

Crow Wing County uses a combination of intensive case management services and employment services in working with the MFIP population. A 2012 department study showed this approach has been effective assisting families achieve self-sufficiency and maintain long-term stability.

“Our mission is to deliver cost-effective services that help people find work and gain independence,” said Luke Simonett, manager of the Community Services Department Division of Employment and Economic Services Division.

Simonett added that the survey data will help the county identify the factors that are most significant in helping people leave assistance programs and which factors are most responsible for longer term stays.

“Although we are pleased that for most people cash assistance is a temporary hand-up, we need to more effectively find solutions for the nearly 5 percent of families who remain on assistance for more than 30 months,” he said.

Crow Wing County’s Department of Community Services administers more than 70 federal and state benefit and assistance services and programs totaling more than $116 million annually.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
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