What Can We Do to Reduce the Amount of Misused Government Funds (by Amber Kidd)

images-6There is a old saying that goes “someone always has to come along and ruin it for the rest of us”. You realize how true this is the older you get. In life, there will always be people that take a good, kind, generous thing, and misuse it for their own personal benefit. More often than not, its the agencies that are entrusted to give resources to low income families, that are the people that deal with this situation the most. It is the Job of a social worker to be able to see through the web of lies and scamming, as well as maintaining a non-biased opinion in order to be able to do their jobs and make sure that the money will be used for the purpose it was given for. Now this is not to say that everyone or even half of everyone that is on government assistance is misusing funds, but there are those people out there that are intentionally and selfishly draining a system that could be put to better use.

During my current community volunteer project, as well as others like this I have done, I have had the opportunity to meet and talk to a variety of people that work within these agencies. Talking to them brought a big question to my mind “what can we do to reduce the amount of misused government funds?” To answer this question I decided to start my researching out by finding out what exactly “misusing funds” meant, according to DHS and other similar government assistance programs.

DHS does a very good job of spelling out exactly what they consider misuse of funds or fraud. Some of these things include the more obvious like; Buying, selling or trading food benefits, unreported income, or receiving benefits from other states. There are also some that some people wouldn’t think about, like; allowing someone else to use your food benefits, or unreported family changes including marriage.

I think that as a community the best thing that we can be doing is making sure that we are able to use these funds that are available to their fullest possible benefit. Aside from the obvious suggestion of making sure to never participate in any government assistance fraud, even with family members and reporting people that are blatantly misusing funds. Ultimately though one of the biggest ways that we can be helping is helping to fill in the gaps ourselves by helping out struggling families. Most of use do not realize how blessed we are. Even when it feels like we have nothing there is always something that we can do to help one another out. Some suggestions for this would be to start collecting clothes and toys that you do not need and donate them to Portland rescue mission. Another great way to help is by starting a food drive in your neighborhood and community. You would be surprised how easily something like this can be done. And the Oregon food bank is always appreciative of donations or volunteers.

Sometimes it is the little things that we don’t think about very much that can be a big difference in a families life. By helping to make sure that we are caring for one another, I truly believe that we have a better chance of lowering families dependence and misuse of things like SNAP, TANF, and WIC. Each of us have something to offer others. Find out where you can help. Get involved in the community. Be the solution.

Become Informed: Resources

“Abuse and Fraud Information Frequently Asked Questions about Reporting Fraud.” Abuse and Fraud Information Frequently Asked Questions about Reporting Fraud. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.http://www.oregon.gov/dhs/abuse/Pages/fraud-faq.aspx

This is a FAQ sheet released by DHS in order to explain exactly what they view as fraud and how to report it

“DHS Fraud Investigators | Welcome to OregonLawHelp.org | A Guide to Free and Low-cost Legal Aid, Assistance and Services in Oregon.” DHS Fraud Investigators | Welcome to OregonLawHelp.org | A Guide to Free and Low-cost Legal Aid, Assistance and Services in Oregon. Web. 10 Aug. 2015. http://oregonlawhelp.org/resource/dhs-fraud-investigators?ref=K2u80 This link I found from a legal perspective what can happen with welfare fraud. I think that it does an excellent job of explaining to people not only what they can do if you are convicted but it also explains some of the ways that the DHS website doesn’t mention on how they can find out about welfare fraud.

“The United Council on Welfare Fraud.” The United Council on Welfare Fraud. Web. 10 Aug. 2015. http://www.ucowf.net/

This is the link to the website for the United Council on Welfare Fraud. Their goal is to “strengthen the intergity of the welfare system”. They are an independent group of people that investigate a number of cases in various states and report any misuse that they find.


“Portland Rescue Mission.” Portland Rescue Mission. Web. 12 Aug. 2015. http://www.portlandrescuemission.org/

clothing and toy donations to help homeless and struggling families

“Oregon Food Bank Works to Eliminate Hunger and Its Root Causes … Because no One Should Be Hungry.” Home. Web. 12 Aug. 2015. http://www.oregonfoodbank.org/?c=130838798287384585The website for the Oregon food bank which explains how to get involved including donations or volunteering in the warehouse and community garden



  1. phines2015

    Helping families in small ways is a great idea but I doubt whether this would reduce the instances of misuse of government funds. You seem to suggest that up to half of all recipients are guilty of misusing the funds they receive. Evidence would more likely show it to be a far lower number. The majority of people truly need the assistance and a few bad actors should not ruin it for everyone else. I only question how helping those families would deter others who would commit fraud anyway.

    Even small acts can make a difference and your suggestions for getting involved are personally inspiring to me. Bravo to you for thinking about this subject and taking personal responsibility for getting involved.

  2. Maranda

    I have been one of those families that relied on food assistance. We fell on hard times, I had a very good job with amazing benefits and then I was laid off. I know that when I went to the store and paid with food assistance, while carrying a coach bag that I had prior to being in that situation, I was judged.
    I know from my own situation and experience that you shouldn’t judge a person who is paying with food stamps, you truly don’t know their situation.
    I can see what you’re saying about the ones that do misuse it, I don’t doubt that there are ones that misuse it and ruin it for the ones that really need it.
    I think that you are right. We should consider helping in other ways.

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