According to the Michigan Messenger, State Sen. Bruce Caswell’s (R) budget proposal would force children in the state’s foster care system to purchase clothing only in used clothing stores.
Children who are placed in foster care receive a state-funded clothing allowance. Under Caswell’s plan, foster children would receive gift cards redeemable only at places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Caswell insists the proposal has nothing to do with stigmatizing poor children and everything to do with saving the state money.
Not surprisingly, human services professionals see the proposal differently. Gilda Jacobs, CEO of the Michigan League for Human Services called the plan a shot at the dignity of foster children and one that is especially cruel given how difficult a circumstance these children find themselves in.
Just like the battle in Benton Harbor, Caswell’s proposal shows the single-focused attack on the poor and politically powerless that has come to define the current breed of Republicans. Reasonable checks and transparency in the administration of public benefits is one thing, but Caswell’s proposal is hardly that. It is a pronouncement on the value of these kids, poor and almost homeless usually through no fault their own.
And like all of these Republican initiatives against the poor, it a “solution” in search of a problem. It is not clear just how much Michigan spends on clothing for foster kids nor is is clear just how much this plan would save. That fact alone offers all the proof needed that fiscal austerity is just another dog whistle for social engineering.
photo courtesy of thomas_sly via Flickr