ATLANTA (AP) – State records show the number of Georgia families receiving welfare benefits has dropped by more than two-thirds in the past 14 years.
The numbers have decreased as Georgia has applied constant pressure to drive down the rolls, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The number of households receiving aid from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program has consistently dropped. It even happened during the Great Recession.
State officials say the decreasing rolls are a sign that the program is working.
The trend in Georgia mirrors what has happened across the U.S., the newspaper reported.
After Congress made broad changes to the welfare program in 1996, the number of households receiving benefits has consistently dropped across nationwide. The changes in the 1990s gave states more control over how to run welfare. That resulted in fewer U.S. households receiving benefits.
In Georgia, the Legislature has consistently focused on getting people to work as opposed to providing cash aid, said Fred Brooks, a professor at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.
In June 2018, the average welfare recipient received $260 a month, according to Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services. The amounts, set by the Legislature, haven’t increased with the rate of inflation in recent years, said Jon Anderson, the head of DFCS’ Office of Family Independence.
Georgia lawmakers for years have supported initiatives to limit the number of people receiving public assistance, including attempts to pass legislation that would have required drug testing for Georgians who receive food stamps.