Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of Deborah Weaver, dated February 23, 1978.
Niles Schore, for appellant.
Edward P. Carey, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer. Concurring Opinion by Judge Blatt. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Wilkinson.
[ 44 Pa. Commw. Page 501]
The sole issue of this appeal is whether the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) erred in disallowing a deduction from the earned income of a recipient of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) for child-care expenses pursuant to Section 183.44(f)(1)(iv) of the DPW regulations which provides that child-care expenses are deductible "if care cannot be provided by other family members, and if no other sound plan can be made for their care." 55 Pa. Code § 183.44(f)(1)(iv). We reverse.
Deborah Weaver (petitioner) and her three children receive AFDC assistance and live in her parents' home. During the period in question, petitioner worked between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. six evenings a week and paid her mother $15 a week for child care.
The County Board of Assistance disallowed a deduction for the $15 child-care expense. Petitioner requested and was given a hearing. The hearing examiner found as a fact that petitioner's mother "would not care for the children on a regular basis without remuneration" and concluded that the deduction should be allowed as an expense attributable to the earning of income. The Executive Director of DPW's Hearing and Appeals Unit reversed the hearing examiner's decision and denied a deduction under Section 183.44(f)(1)(iv) since child care had in fact been provided by a family member. This appeal followed.
Petitioner argues that the term "family members" in Section 183.44(f)(1)(iv) refers only to persons within the assistance unit as defined in DPW regulations, 55 Pa. Code § 171.22, i.e., petitioner and her children. "Family", however, is not defined by either regulation or the Public Welfare Code,*fn1 and therefore we must adopt the meaning derived from common usage.
[ 44 Pa. Commw. Page 502]
By its terms, § 402(a)(7) requires the consideration of 'any reasonable work expenses in determining eligibility for AFDC assistance. . . . [W]e read this language as a congressional directive that no limitation, apart from that of reasonableness, may be placed upon the recognition of expenses attributable to the earning of income.
Congress thus sought to encourage AFDC recipients to secure and retain employment by requiring the States to take into account fully any expenses attributable to the earning of income in determining eligibility for assistance. Such expenses reduce the level of actually available income, and if not deducted from gross income will not produce a corresponding increase in AFDC assistance. Failing to allow the deduction of reasonable ...