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States increasingly looking to charity to help support welfare programs; Utah one of five worst-off

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 15 2012 8:14 a.m. MDT

More and more states are relying on outside groups such as nonprofits to help support their increasingly in-demand welfare programs during the economic downturn.

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In addition to many struggling Americans, state governments can now be added to the list of those who are seeking the help of charity amidst the economic downturn.

"The number of states that turned to nonprofits and other third parties for help maintaining welfare funding increased to 13 states in 2011 from three states in 2007, according to a Government Accountability Office report released last month, reported The Huffington Post. And more states are expected to exercise the option in the future; 17 states said they will probably tap charities for welfare funds, the report found."

The predicament for many states is that while the economy is down and funding is scare, more people are turning to government assistance and welfare programs.

The worst-off states were Utah, Georgia, Colorado, Hawaii and Arizona, according to The Examiner. The help needed was for food and health care services, employment assistance and "family stabilization services."

"The GAO’s findings are just another indication of the toll the down economy takes on state and local governments," according to The Huffington Post. "Municipal governments are facing such financial woes that they could be forced to cut social services, according to a report last month from the State Budget Crisis Task Force. New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, one of the organizers of the task force, told The Huffington Post last month that he was concerned states’ dire straits threaten 'the social order.’ ”

"The GAO said that the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, a product of the 1996 welfare reform, requires states to nearly match federal spending," according to The Examiner. "In fiscal 2011, states spent a total of $33 billion — $18 billion in federal TANF funds and $15 billion in state funds. But to come up with that $15 billion, some states had to rely on outside spending, some as much as 20 percent of their share, said GAO."

Nonprofits and charitable organizations are not only helping states with welfare assistance, but also in providing volunteer efforts and education funding, according to Huffington Post.

"The United Way, YMCA and Shriner’s Hospital for Children are the groups from which financially strapped states have sought help in meeting their collective $15 billion TANF commitment amid rising demand for government assistance," according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

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