Back on April 15, our colleagues at Michigan Radio posted about state Sen. Bruce Caswell's proposal that the $80-a-year clothing allowance Michigan provides for a child in foster care only be eligible for use at thrift stores.
"Caswell says he wants to make sure that state money set aside to buy clothes for foster children and kids of the working poor is actually used for that purpose. ... 'I never had anything new,' Caswell says. 'I got all the hand-me-downs. And my dad, he did a lot of shopping at the Salvation Army, and his comment was — and quite frankly it's true — once you're out of the store and you walk down the street, nobody knows where you bought your clothes.' "
His idea was condemned by Gilda Jacobs, CEO of the Michigan League for Human Services.
Three days later, Caswell (a Republican) changed his proposal. As a statement on his website says, "he plans to draft an amendment to the proposal that would direct the state to work with major retailers to create a gift card program that would ensure the clothing allowance money only purchases clothing and shoes at their stores. Furthermore, the amendment will direct DHS to negotiate with the retailers for a discount on those clothing items purchased with the allowance in order to get the best deal for the recipients."
"My sole goal in this proposal is to make sure that children receive the clothing allowance that the state has provided for them and not have it used for anything else," Caswell also said in the statement.
But a week later, his shift doesn't seem to have been noticed by some critics, at sites such as The Michigan Messenger, Crooks and Liars and The Moderate Voice, which are writing as if he's still pitching the thrift stores-only idea.
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