Boston Globe Criticizes Anti-Poverty Program

Credit where credit is due. The Boston Globe is publishing a major three-part story by staff reporter Patricia Wen that is highly critical of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Part One on Sunday's front-page bore the title, "A legacy of unintended side effects" that seemed designed to appeal to the dozen or so conservative Globe readers.

Wen describes the federal SSI program as a "little-scrutinized $10 billion federal disability program has gone seriously astray, becoming an alternative welfare system with troubling built-in incentives that risk harm to children."

The Globe's summary of the series:

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program for children was created mainly for those with severe physical disabilities. But the $10 billion in federal benefit checks now goes primarily to indigent children with behavioral, learning and mental conditions. Qualifying is not always easy -- many applicants believe it is essential that a child needs to be on psychotropic drugs to qualify. But once enrolled, there is little incentive to get off. And officials rarely check to see if the children are getting better.

Wen reveals this disturbing story about Head Start:

The $7 billion Head Start program, for instance, is required by congressional mandate to set aside 10 percent of its slots for preschool children deemed disabled. If a Head Start center does not fulfill that quota, designed to show the program's commitment to helping the full range of children, that center's federal funding is threatened. Often there are simply not enough cases of children with severe physical disabilities, such as Down syndrome or deafness, to come close to meeting the 10 percent threshold.


Head Start therefore in effect recruits children with speech and behavioral problems to bring its numbers over the 10% mark.

Wen tells the story of Shauna Lougee, whose child's language development was delayed, a condition diagnosed as "speech delay." This "disability" qualifies Ms. Lougee for $700 a month from SSI, which does not come with any spending restrictions whatsoever. Wen writes:

Shauna Lougee was euphoric when she learned in July, only two months after she applied, that her 2-year-old son's case was approved, though she is not clear if it was because of speech delay or autism. Her boy, Gavin, was awarded $700 a month, plus $1,400 in back payments from the date of her original application.

But as the months passed, she said, she began worrying that this extra money was sapping her motivation to get a job or more education. Gavin's SSI check is her family's second: Lougee has been receiving $600 a month through the adult SSI disability program based on her diagnosis of depression.

"SSI sucks you in,'' she said. "Most people get lazy. I just don't want to become lazy.''


The series would not be out of place at American Thinker. Check out the full story, which concludes tomorrow.
Credit where credit is due. The Boston Globe is publishing a major three-part story by staff reporter Patricia Wen that is highly critical of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Part One on Sunday's front-page bore the title, "A legacy of unintended side effects" that seemed designed to appeal to the dozen or so conservative Globe readers.

Wen describes the federal SSI program as a "little-scrutinized $10 billion federal disability program has gone seriously astray, becoming an alternative welfare system with troubling built-in incentives that risk harm to children."

The Globe's summary of the series:

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program for children was created mainly for those with severe physical disabilities. But the $10 billion in federal benefit checks now goes primarily to indigent children with behavioral, learning and mental conditions. Qualifying is not always easy -- many applicants believe it is essential that a child needs to be on psychotropic drugs to qualify. But once enrolled, there is little incentive to get off. And officials rarely check to see if the children are getting better.

Wen reveals this disturbing story about Head Start:

The $7 billion Head Start program, for instance, is required by congressional mandate to set aside 10 percent of its slots for preschool children deemed disabled. If a Head Start center does not fulfill that quota, designed to show the program's commitment to helping the full range of children, that center's federal funding is threatened. Often there are simply not enough cases of children with severe physical disabilities, such as Down syndrome or deafness, to come close to meeting the 10 percent threshold.


Head Start therefore in effect recruits children with speech and behavioral problems to bring its numbers over the 10% mark.

Wen tells the story of Shauna Lougee, whose child's language development was delayed, a condition diagnosed as "speech delay." This "disability" qualifies Ms. Lougee for $700 a month from SSI, which does not come with any spending restrictions whatsoever. Wen writes:

Shauna Lougee was euphoric when she learned in July, only two months after she applied, that her 2-year-old son's case was approved, though she is not clear if it was because of speech delay or autism. Her boy, Gavin, was awarded $700 a month, plus $1,400 in back payments from the date of her original application.

But as the months passed, she said, she began worrying that this extra money was sapping her motivation to get a job or more education. Gavin's SSI check is her family's second: Lougee has been receiving $600 a month through the adult SSI disability program based on her diagnosis of depression.

"SSI sucks you in,'' she said. "Most people get lazy. I just don't want to become lazy.''


The series would not be out of place at American Thinker. Check out the full story, which concludes tomorrow.

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