About Raising RI
RI Works is the state’s cash assistance program for children and their parents or caregivers and a work preparation program for the adults. The Raising RI Coalition is dedicated to lifting children out of poverty by increasing the RI Works benefit and to breaking the cycle of poverty by providing parents with education and training opportunities leading to well-paying, secure jobs.
Raising RI Coalition 2023 Legislative Priorities
Our legislative champions Senator Melissa Murray and Representative Arthur Handy have introduced S-0227 and H-5644 to increase the RI Works benefit amount and expand coverage to all vulnerable Rhode Islanders.
These bills will:
Protect Rhode Island’s poorest children and families from inflation: Increase the monthly benefit to 50% of the federal poverty level and include a cost-of-living increase.
- The cash benefit increase in 2021 moved the needle on economic well-being for 5,000 children receiving benefits, but inflation has decreased the value of this benefit in only two years. In 2023, the value of the RI Works benefit is now only 35% of the federal poverty level in 2022, a 5% decrease.
Undo harm to children: Repeal full family sanction.
- National research shows that sanctions harm children, fall disproportionately on parents who have significant barriers including physical and mental health challenges, limited education, domestic violence, and do not improve program compliance.
Promote child and maternal health: Provide RI Works benefits earlier in pregnancy to allow low-income first-time pregnant women to receive benefits from the verification of pregnancy.
- First-time pregnant women living in poverty need support earlier in their pregnancy to promote healthy birth outcomes.
- Providing cash assistance through RI Works early in a pregnancy would also promote child and maternal health.
Restore eligibility to immigrants: Eliminate the 5-year waiting period for Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR).
- Providing RI Works benefits to LPR families, Rhode Island would join thirteen other states in supporting the well-being of LPR residents.
- Boys & Girls Club of Newport
- Center for Southeast Asians
- Community Action Partnership of Providence
- Community Care Alliance
- Comprehensive Community Action Program
- Cranston Clergy Association
- Crossroads Rhode Island
- Direct Action for Rights and Equality
- Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County
- Dorcas International Institute of RI
- Equal Exchange
- Equus Workforce Solutions
- The Economic Progress Institute
- Facilitate Change
- Family Service of Rhode Island
- Formerly Incarcerated Union of RI
- Foster Forward
- Genesis Center
- Goodwill of Southern New England
- Housing Network of RI
- The Immigrant Coalition of Rhode Island
- Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island
- Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale
- The Latino Policy Institute
- The Milagros Project
- National Association of Social Workers Rhode Island Chapter
- Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island
- Newport Partnership for Families
- Progreso Latino
- ResCare Workforce Services
- Rhode Island AFL-CIO
- The Rhode Island Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
- The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Rhode Island Coalition for Children and Families
- Rhode Island Community Action Association
- The Rhode Island Community Food Bank
- Rhode Island Health Center Association
- The Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty
- Rhode Island Kids Count
- Rhode Island Medical Society
- Rhode Island National Organization for Women
- Rhode Island Parent Information Center
- Rhode Island Organizing Project
- The RIght from the Start Campaign
- Scandinavian Church
- Sista Fire
- Sojourner House
- Paul Catholic Church
- Temple Sinai Social Action Committee
- Tomaquag Museum
- Tri-County Community Action Agency
- United Way of Rhode Island
- URI Feinstein Hunger Center
- Washington County Coalition for Children
- West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation
- Westbay Community Action
- Women’s Resource Center
- The Womxn Project
- Woodridge Congregational Church
- Working Cities Newport
Testimony from Senator Murray, Linda Katz (Economic Progress Institute), Paige Clausius-Parks (Rhode Island KIDS Count), Pablo Mijares (CCAP)
In 2021, the Raising RI Coalition won an increase in the RI Works benefit which had not been adjusted in 30 years. The Coalition is committed to lifting children out of deep poverty by raising the benefit to 50% of the federal poverty level, as proposed in the 2022 legislation. Currently the benefit is equal to only 38% of the poverty level, and without a cost-of-living increase the benefit will continue to lose value. A family of three receives $721 each month and the poverty level is $1,830. While the changes enacted this year (described above) will help families, it is critical to address the deep poverty in which very young children are living and the Coalition will continue to advocate for this and other changes to improve current economic security and future success for children.