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Trump attorneys go to court to attempt to block oversight of the president’s finances. Also, on the Tuesday rundown: the New York plastic bag ban becomes law. Plus, a new poll finds Coloradans support protecting wildlife corridors.

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Report: Roadblocks for MT Families Seeking Help

June 29, 2010

HELENA, Mont. - Paperwork, waiting lists, waiting periods and inconsistent information are examples of the challenges Montana families sometimes face when trying to access food stamps, child care payment assistance and energy-bill help. Those findings are in a report from the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) that also outlines ways for eligibility agencies to do a better job for families in need.

Report author Jim Koppel, who is director of the CDF of Minnesota, says another discovery was that there are some agency workers who feel overwhelmed by the increase in the number of people asking for help.

"We have a lot of families who are in need of these work support programs for the first time in their lives. They've lost jobs and they've run out of their personal safety nets."

Koppel says lawmakers and state agency leaders have a role to play in making sure information is consistent and families feel welcome and respected as they navigate the system.

"We have a lot of new families coming into the system who don't understand these applications. They're burdensome, they're hard to get through."

He describes stigma as an additional barrier for Montanans, because those who have to ask for help often know the eligibility workers and are embarrassed to go into a local office.

The report suggests better training for screeners to guide people to appropriate programs, and better coordination of those programs so families don't have to go to multiple locations for several different interviews.

The full report, "Public Work Support Programs: Addressing Barriers to Increase Access," is available online at

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT