Washington state

30 families to be expunged from welfare

The state of Washington is terminating welfare benefits for 30 families in which parents have failed to work, look for a job or take job training.

The families, half in the Spokane area and six in King County, lost welfare benefits - specifically, cash payments - Thursday after receiving them for more than four years.

Each has refused to participate in job training or other required activities since at least Sept. 1 and were notified more than 10 days ago that they would lose payments, said Carole Holland, senior coordinator for WorkFirst, the state's welfare-to-work program.

The families still will receive food stamps and Medicaid coverage, and would qualify for increased food stamps because of the loss of cash payments, Holland said.

Another 250 cases are under review for termination.

Washington has nearly 53,000 welfare families, including cases where children are the sole recipients.

Welfare advocates worry those with legitimate reasons for not meeting state requirements will suffer.

The welfare families might struggle with literacy, mental-health and child-behavioral issues, said Jean Colman, executive director of the Welfare Rights Organizing Coalition.

Holland said payments are terminated only after a state panel reviews each case to ensure that recipients aren't dropped inappropriately. For instance, a single parent with a baby younger than 4 months would be exempt.

The families could appeal the ruling or reapply for benefits within six months.