The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Lift the Cap on Kids


Legislature overwhelmingly supports Family Cap repeal!

Governor's veto keeps in place a law that harms children! 

The Massachusetts Legislature voted to include family cap repeal in the budget. The Governor sent back the repeal provisions with a "poison pill" amendment. The Governor's amendment would have repealed the family cap only if the Legislature agreed to cut benefits for 7,300 children with a severely disabled parent. The Legislature rejected the amendment and re-enacted family cap repeal.  The Governor vetoed the re-enactment, choosing to keep in place a law that harms children. 

We are optimistic that the Legislature will Lift the Cap on Kids without delay.

What is the Cap on Kids?

The Cap on Kids – also called the Family Cap – denies welfare benefits to children conceived while – or soon after – the family received benefits.

Massachusetts denies benefits to 8,700 children because of the Cap on Kids.

What is the impact of the Cap on Kids?

  • The Cap on Kids causes everyone in the family to suffer – including the excluded child’s older siblings.
  • Welfare benefits are very low – $578/month for a family of three, but only $478 if one of the children is excluded by the Cap on Kids. Welfare benefits go up by about $100 a month as family size increases.

 “[Family cap] children are undernourished not because of acts of God, but acts of legislation.  Malnourished children increase health costs in the short term and jeopardize Massachusetts’s future work force in the long term.” Deborah A. Frank, MD, Director, Grow Clinic for Children, Boston Medical Center

See "Why Pediatricians Urge Family Cap Repeal," Children's Health Watch. 

  • The Cap on Kids does not reduce births to mothers on welfare. Welfare families on average are the same size as families in the general population.

  “I don’t know a woman – and I don’t think she exists – who would have a baby for the sole purpose of having another [$100] a month.” State Senator Holly Mitchell (D. CA), successfully advocated for 2016 CA repeal

Massachusetts is one of only 17 states that still have a Cap on Kids or similar policy. 

Seven states that had kids cap policies have repealed them. See map

We can afford to lift the Cap on Kids. 

Massachusetts’s spending for TAFDC is less than 20% of what it was in 1995 when the Cap on Kids was enacted. The "savings" from the drop in the caseload can be used to lift the Cap. See chart here.

Please Support the Campaign to Lift the Cap on Kids -- Value All Children Equally

Ask your organization to join the Campaign to Lift the Cap on Kids

122 organizations support Lifting the Cap on Kids. To add your organization, complete and send us this form for organizations

Join the Campaign as an individual.  

Complete and send us this form for individuals

Sign the petition to Lift the Cap on Kids.

Please Help Our Most Vulnerable Kids.  

Ask your state Representative and Senator to urge the Speaker and the Senate President to Lift the Cap on Kids without delay. Go here to find your state Representative and Senator. 

See Press on the Campaign to Lift the Cap on Kids

State House News Service article featuring Lift the Cap on Kids at the  Social Worker Lobby Day at the State House on March 21, 2017

Springfield Republican article featuring Lift the Cap on Kids at Women's Bar Association Legislative Breakfast on February 7 2017

Channel 22: May 5, 2017

Yvonne Abraham, Welfare cap is cruel mistake,  Boston Globe:  May 13, 2017

New England Public Radio:

Cambridge Wicked Local:

AP story that ran in various outlets, including the Sunday Standard-Times and the Worcester Telegram:

Op Ed by Tiziana Dearing: May 18, 2017

Column by Rep. Kafka in the Boston Globe Metro South

Column by Rep. Khan in the Boston Globe Metro West

Column by Sen. DiDomenico in the Boston Globe Metro North

Sue O'Connell NECN interview with Rebekah Gewirtz  

Press coverage of Caps and Mittens event, 10/26/17: Everett Independent 

Press coverage of Joint W&M hearing, 3/16/18: MassLive. 

BNN interview March 23, 2018 : 

Debbie Rambo, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston, 4/20/18: The Pilot 

Advocates Praise House Move to Lift the Welfare Cap on Families, 4/27/18: The Pilot, 4/27/18  

Senator DiDomenico's Lift the Cap on Kids Bill Included in the Senate Budget, 5/17/18: Charlestown Bridge.

States Rethink Rules that Cap Welfare to Children, Associated Press: 5/28/18

Debbie Rambo, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston, Time to Undo Failed Family Cap Policy, Commonwealth Magazine, July 5, 2018.

Governor’s Family Cap Move ‘devious’, MassLive, July 27, 2018

MA Legislators Undo Cruel Family Cap Policy, Rewire News, updated July 30, 2018

Beacon Hill Rejects Baker’s Welfare Reforms, Gloucester Times, July 31, 2018; Salem News, July 31, 2018

MA Governor really really wants to restrict welfare benefits, Rewire News, Aug. 1, 2018

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For more information, please contact:  Deborah Harris, Mass. Law Reform Institute,, 617-357-0700 x 313, or Naomi Meyer, Greater Boston Legal Services,, 617-603-1621.


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