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Policy Links School Attendance, Welfare Benefits

LANSING (WWJ/AP) - A new policy taking effect on Oct. 1 means Michigan parents whose children don't attend school could lose welfare cash benefits.

Starting Monday, the Michigan Department of Human Services will require children ages 6-15 to attend school full-time to keep their family eligible for cash benefits.

A student is considered truant in Michigan when he or she has 10 or more unexcused absences per school year. For the 2011-12 school year, 93,408 cases of truancy were reported in Michigan schools, an increase of nearly 10,000 from the previous year, which had 83,491, The Detroit News reported.

If a child doesn't attend school, the entire family could become ineligible. Current policy requires attendance for children ages 16-17 and doesn't cut aid if a student is truant.

"The intent is, this is cash assistance for people with kids and you need to be responsible," DHS spokesman David Akerly said. "It's a carrot and stick."

The policy change was prompted by Gov. Rick Snyder, who called earlier this year for a crackdown on truancy at schools. The change takes effect two days before Michigan's fall Count Day, when attendance is used to determine most of a school district's per-pupil funding from the state.

The policy is expected to affect most of the state's 59,000 welfare cash-assistance cases and its roughly 162,000 recipients, who will now be required to prove school enrollment and attendance for any of their children when they apply for aid.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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