Rhode Islanders who work full-time should be able to afford housing, food, and health care. Yet far too many jobs pay wages that are too low for families to meet their most basic needs. Many working families would not be able to get by if not for government funded work and income supports that help close the gap between earnings and expenses.
Contrary to the oft-cited claim that Rhode Island has among the most generous public benefits, working families’ eligibility for child care assistance and health care coverage is lower than for residents in other New England states. Families in three other New England states also receive a larger refund through the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit than families in the Ocean State. While families in all states who need to rely on welfare (TANF) cash assistance receive benefits that are well below the federal poverty level, Rhode Island’s monthly benefit (which has not been adjusted in more than 30 years) is the second lowest in the region.