, Newburyport, MA


November 26, 2012

Put entitlement programs under the microscope


But no. That’s not what the city government intended. “Fully funded all-day kindergarten” is fully funded only for those families who can’t afford it. It’s for those families who don’t work extra jobs to pay for day care and all-day kindergarten, and if you work, you’ll pay, just like you did before.

So this family is back to square one. At least one more year paying out. One more year without replacing the old car, one more year where Momma and Poppa take separate vacations so that someone is home during the summer weeks when school is out, maybe one more year before Poppa can be home for dinner too.

And here’s the kicker: Poppa is a social worker, employed by the state of Massachusetts. His clients are, for the most part, young people who need help navigating the system in which they, perhaps through no fault of their own, have run amok. Poppa’s clients, besides getting his help and advice, also get things like clothing allowances. Poppa was astounded when he learned the amount of money his clients receive for clothing. Each client receives from the state an amount that would clothe his whole family of four. And while Sister is delighted to wear the hand-me-downs she is given by friends and family and the shoes on sale at Target, and Brother proudly shows off his new sneakers from the 40 percent off sale at the outlet, Poppa’s clients wear top-end designer sneakers so they will fit in with their friends and not stand out as being on welfare.

I know I’m probably being melodramatic. And I know this family of whom I speak will probably be embarrassed to be the subject of this piece. And before you jump down my figurative throat, I am fully aware that most of the people who will have that kindergarten tuition paid for by the government and who receive public assistance really need help. There are mothers who are alone after the fathers of their children skipped out, and there are families where the bread-winners lost their jobs in this terrible economy. There are people who are loathe to accept public assistance and can’t wait to be working again.

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