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Shelly Johnson

Like other mothers, Shelly nurtures special dreams for her children, Ellie and Wayne. A few months ago, these dreams gave way to fear that she couldn’t even keep them fed. After Ellie needed surgery for a life-threatening neurological condition, Shelly had to stay home to care for her. When she tired to go back to work, the state cut the family’s food stamps, a calculation that resulted from double counting the family’s child support. Fearful but determined, Shelly insisted on fairness. Officials admitted the policy was wrong but refused to change, saying it would be too difficult to reprogram the state’s computer. Shelly’s local attorney referred her to the Tennessee Justice Center.

After Tennessee Justice Center intervened, the state made up the loss to Shelly and reprogrammed its computer so that it no longer shortchanges families. Because Shelly took up for her children, thousands of other moms across the state will no longer be penalized when they go back to work, and their kids will no longer go hungry.

Photo Credit: Glen Booth

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