In the past few years, advocates have secured a number of improvements to cash assistance. In April 2019, the Massachusetts legislature repealed the welfare family cap, the rule that barred benefits for children conceived while the parent received TAFDC. The Legislature raised grants by 10 percent beginning January 1, 2021, by an additional 9.1 percent beginning July 1, 2021, and by an additional 10 percent beginning October 1, 2022. Effective July 1, 2021, the Legislature eliminated the cash assistance asset test.
Despite the grant increases, grants still pay barely a third of the federal poverty level, about half of what the grants paid in 1988 after adjusting for inflation. Because of these very low grant levels our lowest income and most vulnerable children suffer from a lack of basic necessities, resulting in health and emotional damage, toxic stress, and impaired school performance.
DTA made a number of other changes and suspended a number of rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guide notes in red when a rule was suspended during the pandemic.