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2003 September - October

Time Limits, Employment, and State Flexibility in TANF Programming

How States Can Use Time Limits and Earnings Disregards to Support Employment Goals, Preserve Flexibility, and Meet Stricter Federal Participation Requirements

By John Bouman, Margaret Stapleton & Deb McKee

Work participation rates may become stricter after Congress reauthorizes Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the welfare program mandated in 1996. States may have to adjust their programs to comply with the federal requirements and create work incentives for recipients. Maintaining state programming flexibility with state cash assistance, work supports, time-limit relief, income disregards, and other methods is critical to working recipients' adequate support.

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Operating Self-Help Branch Offices in Low-Income, Minority Communities

By Wayne Moore

Staffed by a paralegal with access to technology, offices such as the two branch ones opened by the AARP's Legal Counsel for the Elderly in Washington, D.C., allow a program to offer legal services and establish a presence in the community.

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Advocacy for Language Access at Minneapolis Social Security Offices

By Blong Yang, Mike Persellin & Kathleen Davis

The social security office offered limited-English-proficient clients neither interpreters nor translated documents. Several changes have since made the office's services more accessible linguistically.

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Handling Potential Fraud Cases at the Civil Level

By Laurel Blankinship

The advocate can help make criminal prosecutions unlikely or even foreclose them for clients at the outset of their civil representation on overpayments and overissuances. The advocate must review notices and computations, scour files for evidence, and choose between settling and an administrative hearing.

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When Cash Aid and Food Stamps Become a Gateway to Prison and What You Can Do About This

By Evanne O'Donnell, Laurel Blankinship & Jodea Foster

Consulting with a criminal defense attorney early in and throughout the administration of a welfare fraud case can help the legal aid advocate's client assert rights to public assistance without jeopardizing rights in criminal court. Advocates should understand the nuances of their state's welfare fraud detection programs and how a civil case turns criminal.

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Reentry—the Tie That Binds Civil Legal Aid Attorneys and Public Defenders

By Cynthia Works

Civil legal aid attorneys must help ex-offenders overcome barriers to employment, public benefits, and housing, regain custody of children, and deal with immigration problems and voting rights. The attorneys need to communicate better with public defenders; their collaboration in no way risks noncompliance with Legal Services Corporation regulations.

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Protecting Low-Income Communities from the New "Urban Renewal"

Antidisplacement Advocacy and Relocation Rights Enforcement

By S. Lynn Martinez

As in the urban renewal programs decades ago, lower-income households face displacement during the current "wave" of revitalization. Residents can protect themselves by weighing in on plans. Protective federal relocation laws are triggered when public funding or a governmental agency is involved. State laws and local ordinances may supplement protection.

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