Family Independence Temporary
Assistance Program (FITAP)
The goal of FITAP is to decrease the long-term dependency on welfare assistance by promoting job preparation and work. Public assistance is no longer a lifetime benefit but an opportunity to become independent after a financial crisis.
The graph shows how much assistance a family receives based on family size.
|Number of Persons
|FITAP Flat Grant Amounts||$122||$188||$240||$284||$327||$366||$402||$441||$477||$512|
The average family consists of a mother and two children. The average grant in Louisiana is $200 per month
Do I Qualify for FITAP?
To be eligible for FITAP, the family must meet all the conditions listed below:
- Residence - the client must be living in the state, must intend to make a home here and the stay cannot be temporary.
- Citizenship - the client must be either a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
- Need - a family must be considered financially needy to be eligible. It is not necessary that a parent be incapacitated, absent or unemployed.
- Enumeration - all applicants or recipients must provide or apply for a Social Security number for each member of the assistance unit.
- Age - children must be under the age of 18 to be eligible or in school and able to complete the course of study or obtain a GED by the 19th birthday.
- Relationship - in order to receive FITAP assistance for a child, an individual must be a qualified relative by meeting certain relationship requirements, i.e., must be related by blood, marriage or adoption.
- Home - it must be verified that the child actually lives in the same home with the qualified relative.
- Support Enforcement Services - the client must assign any child support and medical support rights to the state, and must cooperate with the agency's Support Enforcement Services in establishing paternity and obtaining child support and medical support from the absent parent(s), unless good cause has been established.
- STEP - work eligible applicants and recipients are required to participate in the STEP Program.
- Income - monthly countable income, both earned and unearned, cannot exceed the flat grant amount for the number of persons in the assistance unit. Total countable income is subtracted from the flat grant amount to determine the client's grant amount. The allowable earned income deductions are:
- Standard earned income deduction of $120 for each employed member.
- Time limited deduction of $900 for six months for each employed member.
- Immunization - sufficient evidence of immunity or immunization against vaccine preventable diseases according to the Office of Public Health schedule, or evidence that such an immunization program is in progress, must be provided for each recipient under the age of 18.
- Parenting Skills Training - each applicant/recipient who is pregnant or has a child under the age one must attend parenting skills training.
- Time Limits - the family is ineligible to receive assistance if a parent or either parent in a two-parent family has received benefits for 24 of the prior 60 months. There is a 60 month lifetime limit if the assistance unit includes a parent/caretaker relative.
- Minor parent restriction - minor unmarried parents and their children must reside in the home of a parent, legal guardian, other adult relative or in an adult-supervised living arrangement in order to qualify for assistance.
- Drug screening - Applicants/recipients age 18 and over must cooperate in screening for the use of illegal drugs, and, if necessary, drug testing, education and rehabilitation.
How and Where Do I Apply?
|Click here for information on applying for FITAP and other Family Services.|
The application can be made at any Economic Stability parish office or you can call 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578) for assistance.
Written information will help the local office to make a determination of eligibility promptly. For example, a birth certificate, baptismal record, or school record will show the child's age and relationship to the parent. If someone else applies, additional information is needed to establish the child's relationship to the applicant. A decision should be made within 30 days.
Income from all sources must be taken into account in determination of eligibility and amount of grant. This includes income from Social Security, veteran's benefits, Railroad Retirement, or wages, and any other regular income. However, the law exempts certain income.
The person who receives the benefits must notify the Economic Stability parish office of any changes in address, residence, living arrangements, resources, and income according to the requirements of the reporting system to which they are assigned.
What Are My Rights?
If you believe the action on your case is not correct, or that a decision was not rendered on your application with reasonable promptness, you may request and obtain a fair hearing. The parish office will present the evidence on which its decision was made, and you will be expected to present evidence to support your claim at the hearing. The fair hearing judge will then determine whether you are entitled to your claim.
If you wish to request a fair hearing, you should follow the instructions on the back of the notice you receive from the agency or contact the local office. Requests for fair hearings are mailed to the Appeals Division, P. O. Box 2944, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70821. The request must be made within 30 days after the local office decision.
If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, or on the basis of religion or political beliefs, it is your right to file a complaint either through your local Economic Stability office or directly to the Economic Stability Division office, or to the Federal Government. If you wish to file such a complaint, you may secure the complaint form from your parish Economic Stability office.
How are My Benefits Issued?
|Check the Balance on your Louisiana Purchase Card (EBT Account) at JPMorgan Chase.|
Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) is a method of delivering governmental benefits to recipients electronically. Louisiana uses magnetic stripe card technology. The card, which is referred to as the Louisiana Purchase Card enables recipients to access benefits at ATM’s and Point-of-Sale (POS) machines.
Cash benefits are posted to recipient accounts during the first five days of the month. Recipient benefits are accessible by 5:00 a.m. the morning after they are posted. Benefits are posted on the same date every month regardless of the day of the week. Holidays and weekends do not affect the date of benefit availability.
Benefits are secure and accessible only to persons authorized by the recipient. The Personal Identification Number (PIN) is selected by the recipient and must be correctly entered in order to successfully complete all electronic transactions. As purchases or cash withdrawals are made at grocery store checkout lanes and ATM’s, recipient accounts are debited and the recipient is given a receipt which provides the remaining account balance.
A surcharge is the amount some ATMs charge you each time you withdraw your cash benefits, and this surcharge is deducted from your available balance. The following list of surcharge-free ATM owners provide you access to your cash benefits without being surcharged by the ATM:
- ASI FEDERAL CREDIT UNION
- BANCORPSOUTH BANK
- WHITNEY BANK
- PROGRESSIVE BANK
- REGIONS BANK
Reporting the Misuse of the ebt card
Prohibition of Unauthorized Use or Purchases Made with the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card:
Recipients of Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP) are prohibited from using their FITAP benefits in any Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) transaction in any liquor store, gambling casino or gaming establishment, in a retail establishment that provides adult oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment purposes, or at an ATM of any of these establishments.
In addition, FITAP recipients are prohibited from using their EBT card for the purchase of an alcoholic beverage, a tobacco product, or a lottery ticket at any retailer.
Failure to comply with these prohibitions is considered an Intentional Program Violation (IPV) and the penalty is full case closure. The penalty time periods are:
- 12 months for the first offense,
- 24 months for the second offense, and
- Permanently for the third offense.
Reporting of Misuse of the EBT Card:
The agency will rely on retailers and the public to report the misuse of benefits. Individuals are encouraged to call DCFS' toll-free hotline at 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578) and select option 7 from the main menu or by visiting www.dcfs.la.gov/ReportFraud.
To report a complaint to the Fraud & Recovery Unit, retailers and the public may call the Fraud Hotline at 1 (800) 256-3150, email the complaint to DCFS.Fraud@LA.GOV, fax the complaint at (225) 219-1663 or mail the complaint to: Fraud and Recovery Unit, P.O. Box 91147, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-9147.
The Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program is authorized by the Social Security Act as amended by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Effective January 1997 the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program is funded by the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Block Grant. The Department of Health and Human Services is the federal agency responsible for its administration. The program is administered at the state level by the Department of Children & Family Services, Office of Family Support.