Mom claims kids don't qualify for Flint benefits after move - WNEM TV 5

Mom claims kids don't qualify for Flint benefits after move

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Thousands of children will get money this month for certain foods to fight the effects of the Flint water crisis, but it's a different story for children of families who have left the city. 

Among those children is 4-year-old Sincere Smith. The boy was once featured on the cover of TIME magazine. 

According to the Detroit Free Press, his family no longer qualifies for a chunk of the $7 million in food assistance going to some Flint residents because they moved to Swartz Creek to get away from the water crisis. 

The assistance means qualifying families will receive a one-time payment of $420 per child.  That money is expected to be used throughout the year and is in addition to the $30 per child families got in March.

To qualify, residents must have lived in a Flint ZIP code identified as being served by the city of Flint water system on Feb. 28, and still live in an eligible ZIP code April 1. Families who left the city because of the water to escape the lead won't be eligible regardless if their children suffer health effects.

Sincere's family suffered some of the worse effects of the water crisis.

"These blisters, they were burning him. But that's what it was. The water was burning his blisters and it was burning him up. It was hard," his mom Ariana Hawk said.

Sincere's blistered face became a national symbol of Flint's troubles on the cover of TIME magazine.

"I couldn't bathe my son with water. We had to adapt to using bottled water - having to cook with it, brush our teeth with it, using it every day as opposed to using the sink as our source of water. It was difficult," Hawk said.

She said her kids need extra fruits and vegetables to mitigate the effects of lead in their system.

The state agreed and recently allocated $7 million in federal funding to more than 15,000 children living in the water crisis. The funds will allow families to access nutritious food.

Since Hawk moved her children away from the crisis her children were left out of the funding.

"People like me who moved away, it's not fair because I decided that the water was too hurtful and too harmful for my kids that I would move away and try to do something better," Hawk said.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said they had limited funding to work with and decided to focus on families still living in Flint.

Hawk said that reasoning is not fair to her kids.

"Or anybody else's kids who are going through it," Hawk said.

It's not clear how many families are in the same situation. 

The state said the Food Bank of Michigan will provide healthy food at no charge to families like Hawk's.

Copyright 2017 WNEM (Meredith Corporation)/Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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