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Welfare-to-Work Programs - Finding And Creating Jobs For Tanf Recipients

activities training hours education

Job availability is one of the most difficult challenges facing states in moving recipients to work from welfare. This challenge includes both the location of job opportunities and the suitability of jobs for the skill levels and past work experience of most welfare recipients. If suitable jobs cannot be found, states must create work-activity placements. The challenge of appropriate job opportunities was made easier by the economic prosperity of the 1990s. However, issues could arise as the economy contracts in a recession, causing a scarcity of jobs.

Welfare agencies have had to change their focus and train staff to function more as job developers and counselors than as caseworkers. They make an initial assessment of recipients' skills as required by the TANF law. They may then develop personal responsibility plans for recipients, identifying what is needed (training, job-placement services, support services) to move them into the workforce.

States have developed a variety of approaches to finding and creating job opportunities. Though most rely on existing unemployment offices, many states have tried other options to help recipients find work:

TABLE 9.4
Welfare work requirements by state

State Welfare recipient type When work activity must begin Work activities requirements Notes on work requirements Hours required Notes
Alabama All, except Two Parent Families Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, development and placement, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, Community service Any client in a one-parent Assistance Unit (AU) is required to to participate in work activities for 32–35 hours per week, 25 of which should be work activities other than education. (Single parents with a child under 6 will not be required to participate more than 20 hours per week.)
Alaska All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job development and placement, Job search, On-the-job training, unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, Self-employment, Life skills training, Community service. In order for participation to count, the caretaker adult must participate at least 30 hours per week. No minimum weekly or monthly number of attendance hours applies to single parents age 20 who participate in High School or GED Preparation.
Arizona All, except Two Parent Families Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job development and placement, Job search, On-the-job training, CWEP/AWEP. Determined on a case by case basis.
Arkansas All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, Self-employment, Community service. 30 n.a.
California All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Following appraisal Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Job readiness activities, Job search. ? Counties are allowed to vary their specific activities requirements Requirements that were statewide are noted as such.
Colorado All ? Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Job readiness activities, Job search. Minimum of 22 hours per week (maximum 40 hours per week)
Connecticut All Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job development and placement, Job search, Unsubsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, Counseling. Included in each participant's Employability Plan

TABLE 9.4
Welfare work requirements by state

State Welfare recipient type When work activity must begin Work activities requirements Notes on work requirements Hours required Notes
Delaware All, except Two Parent Families Upon receipt of benefits Participation in activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count toward the requirement: Basic or remedial education, ESL, High school/GED, post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job search, On-the-job training, CWEP/AWEP, community service, and Life skills training. Minimum 20 hours per week
D.C. All, except Two Parent Families Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the first 20 hours: Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, Child care provider for others, Community service. These activities may count toward the remaining hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training. These policies may have been in place before 2/00. 30
Florida All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the first 20 hours of the requirement: job search, job readiness, job skills training, on-the-job training, unsubsidized employment, work supplementation/subsidized employment, CWEP, and child care provider for others. In addition to these activities, the following activities may count toward the remaining 5 hours of the requirement: basic/remedial education, high school/GED, ESL, and counseling. On-the-Job training and Work supplementation require full- time (32 to 40 hour) commitment. 30 per individual
Georgia All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents ? (The case manager will offer work activities before the recipient has received assistance for 24 months.) Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count toward the first 25 hours of the requirement: high school/GED, job skills training, job readiness, job search, on-the-job training, unsubsidized job, work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, child care provider for others, and community service. In addition to these activities, the following activities may count toward the remaining 15 hours of the requirement: basic or remedial education, high school/GED, ESL, post-secondary education, job skills training, job readiness, counseling, and life skills training. Participation in secondary activities with participationin a primary activity is allowed for up to 90 days. 40 hours per week (when it is determined by the agency to be possible; 25 hours per week minimum)
Hawaii All Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, Child care provider for others, Community service. 18
Idaho All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, Child care provider for others, Community service. Minimum per month: # workdays in month multiplied by 6 hours
Illinois All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents After assessment Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education. Full-time as defined by the school.

TABLE 9.4
Welfare work requirements by state

State Welfare recipient type When work activity must begin Work activities requirements Notes on work requirements Hours required Notes
Indiana All Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the requirement: job readiness, job search, on-the-job training, CWEP, work supplement/subsidized job, unsubsidized job, self- employment, counseling, life skills training, job development and job placement, basic/remedial education, high school/GED, English as Second Language, and job skills training. Participation is based on a customized plan that evaluates the employment skills and abilities of the individual. Activities and the required duration of these activities are developed in this plan.
Iowa All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Immediately -after Family Investment Agreement is negotiated Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job search, On-the-jobtraining, Unsubsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, Life skills training, Community service. Participation shall be equivalent to the level of commitment required for full-time employment or shall be significant as to move toward the level of full-time employment.
Kansas All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count toward the first 20 hours of the requirement: job skills training, job readiness activities, job search, On-the-Job-Training, unsubsidized job, work supplement/subsidized job, counseling, life skills training, and community service. In addition to these activities, the following activities may count toward the remaining 10 hours of the requirement: job development and job placement, basic/remedial education, high school/GED, English as Second Language, and other. 30
Kentucky All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Immediately Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the first 20 hours of the requirement: Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job development and placement, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, Child care provider for others, Counseling, Life skills training, Community service. The following activities may count towards the remaining 10 hours of the requirement: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, and Job search. Minimum 30 hours per week One-time $250 bonus is available upon obtaining a high a school diploma or a GED certificate, completing certificate or degree from post-secondary institution, or maintaining full-time (30 hrs/week), unsubsidized employment paying at least minimum wage for at least 90 days. If a person leaves K-TAP with wages, they are eligible for up to 3 $500 bonuses after 3, 6, and 9 months, if they make at least minimum wage and weekly wages are at least 35 hrs times minimum wage.
Louisiana All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Job readiness activities, Job Skills Training, Job search, On-the -Job Training. Work supplement/subsidized job, unsubsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, and high school/GED. 20

TABLE 9.4
Welfare work requirements by state

State Welfare recipient type When work activity must begin Work activities requirements Notes on work requirements Hours required Notes
Maine All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the first 20 hours of the requirement: job readiness, job skills training, job development and placement, job search, on-the-job training, work supplement/subsidized job, unsubsidized job, self-employment, Child care provider for others, counseling, life skills training, and community service. In addition to these activities, the following activities may count toward the remaining 10 hours of the requirement: basic or remedial education, high school/GED, English as a Second Language, post-secondary education, job readiness, job skills training, job development and placement, counseling, life skills training, and community service. 30
Maryland All Within 24 months of receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count toward the 20 hour requirement: job skills training, job readiness, job search, on-the-job training, unsubsidized job, work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, child care provider for others, and community service. In addition to these activities, individuals may participate in the following activities above the 20 hour requirement: basic or remedial education, English as a Second Language, high school/GED, post-secondary education, and job skills training. No minimum number of hours required; depends on activity. Allowable activities are determined by the local office. The only stipulation is that they are likely to lead to unsubsidized employment.
Massachusetts All n.a. n.a. n.a. Recipients in the Exempt Component are exempt from any activities requirements.
Michigan All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the first 25 hours of the requirement: job search, job readiness, on-the-job training, CWEP/AWEP, work supplement/subsidized job, unsubsidized job, child care provider for others, and community service. Full time high school attendance counts as thirty hours towards the participation requirement. In addition to these activities, the following activities may count toward the remaining 5 hours of the requirement: basic/remedial education, high school/GED, English as Second Language, post-secondary education, and job skills training. If chosen, on-the-job training requires a minimum of 35 hours/week. High School and GED education is available for 10 hours per week with the remaining participation hours in unsubsidized employment. Post-secondary education or training is available for 10 hours per week and at least 10 hours per week (per individual) must be spent in unsubsidized employment. 30
Minnesota All, except Two Parent Families Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language. Must meet school and/or program attendance requirements
Mississippi All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Within 24 months of receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count toward the first 20 hours of the requirement: high school/GED, job skills training, job readiness, job search, on-the-job training, unsubsidized job, work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, self-employment, life skills training, and community service. In addition to these activities, the following activities may count toward the remaining 5 hours of the requirement: basic or remedial education, high school/GED, job skills training, and child care provider for others. 30 hours per week (20 hours per week for a single custodial parent caring for a child under 6 years old). Actual hours depend on activity. For example, an individual in subsidized employment must participate at least 35 hours per week; educational programs (including vocational training) full-time as defined by the school; and job search/job readiness (combined) for 40 hours per week.

TABLE 9.4
Welfare work requirements by state

State Welfare recipient type When work activity must begin Work activities requirements Notes on work requirements Hours required Notes
Missouri All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Within 24 months of receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job development and placement, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP. Minimum 30 hours per week.
Montana All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job search, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, Self-employment, Counseling, Life Skills Training, Community Service. 30
Nebraska All, except Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job search, On-the-job training, Work supplement/subsidized job, Self-employment, Life skills training, Unsubsidized employment, Community service, and Child care provider for an another. 30
Nevada All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the first 25 hours of the requirement: basic/remedial education, English as Second Language, job readiness, job search, job skills training, on-the-job training, CWEP/AWEP, work supplement/subsidized job, unsubsidized job, child care provider for others, life skills training, and community service. In addition to these activities, the following activities may count toward the remaining 5 hours of the requirement: high school/GED, post-secondary education, and counseling. 30 per individual
New Hampshire All, except Two Parent Families Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Job readiness activities, Job search. Under certain conditions, participants may enter another activity in addition to or instead of job search. 20 (if the individual has a child under age 6); 25 (if the individual does not have a child under age 6)
New Jersey All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, Self-employment, Child care provider for others, Counseling, Community service. 35 per individual
New Mexico All, except Two Parent families and Minor Parents By the end of the third month following approval for the receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. No fewer than 20 hours must be attributable to primary work activities. The following activities may count towards the first 20 hours of the requirement: Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, Child care provider or others, Counseling, Life skills training. In addition to these activities, the following activities may count toward the remaining 9 hours of the requirement: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education. 29

TABLE 9.4
Welfare work requirements by state

State Welfare recipient type When work activity must begin Work activities requirements Notes on work requirements Hours required Notes
New York All, except Two Parent Families Within 30 days of orientation Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language. Full-time, as defined by education provider.
North Carolina All, except Two Parent Families Within 12 weeks of receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the first 20 hours of the requirement: Unsubsidized job, subsidized job, job search, job readiness, on- the-job training, work supplement/subsidized job, unsubsidized job, community service, child care provider for others. The following activities may count towards the remaining 10 hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, job skills training, CWEP/AWEP, Life skills training, counseling 30 hours per week
North Dakota All Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job development and placement, Job search, On-the-job training, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP. Activities and hour requirementsare specified in each participant's employment plan. Hour requirement not specified; specified in each participant's employment plan (Recipients caring for a child under 6 are not required to work for more than 20 hours per week).
Ohio All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job development and placement, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, Life skills training. Minimum of 20, maximum of 40, with the following specific guidelines:Job search, job placement and development, life skills training, CWEP, LEARN, and job readiness(minimum of 20 hours per week); basic education, secondary education, and job skills training (minimum hours required by the specific edeucation or training program, plus a minimum of 8 hours per week in a work activity); and work supplementation/subsidized employment and OJT (minimum of 30 hours per week).
Oklahoma All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, counseling, self employment, life skills training, and CWEP/AWEP. 30
Oregon All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon applying for benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Job search. 10 hours per week
Pennsylvania All Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Job search. There are no specified hours requirements. However, the recipient must make a good faith effort to obtain employment as determined by the case worker to avoid sanction.

TABLE 9.4
Welfare work requirements by state

State Welfare recipient type When work activity must begin Work activities requirements Notes on work requirements Hours required Notes
Rhode Island All, except Two Parent Families Upon request of assistance Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job development and placement, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP. 20
South Carolina All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Job search. 30 (parents with child(ren) under six, 20)
South Dakota All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the first 15 required hours: Job skills training, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, Self-employment, Child care provider for others, Community service. The following activities may count toward the remaining required hours: Post-secondary education 30 for recipients with a child age 6 or older; 20 for recipients with a child under the age of 6.
Tennessee All, except Minor Parents Upon completion of educational assessment Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, Job readiness activities, Life skills training. 20 hours per week Tennessee offers bonuses for the following achievements: 2nd or 6th GradeLiteracy Level-$150; 9thGrade Literacy Level-$350; High School Diploma or GED- $500; Completing soft skills training (including AR#2)-$100; Completing job skills training- $200; Associates or Bachelor's Degree-$500; Obtaining full-time job of at least 35 hours/week or part-time jobs that add up to at least 40 hours/week-$100; Leaving Families First (TN TANF program) due to increased earnings-$200 (this includes client electing to close case because benefit is less than $10); Staying off assistance for 6 months with continuous employment and maintaining income level-$200; or staying off assistance for 12 months with continuous employment and maintaining income level-$500.

TABLE 9.4
Welfare work requirements by state

State Welfare recipient type When work activity must begin Work activities requirements Notes on work requirements Hours required Notes
Texas All, except Two Parent Families Immediately after workforce orientation Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Job search. 30 The state categorizes recipients based on the level of service they need to become employed and self-sufficient: Service Level 1- employable at a salary above minimum wage with minimal assistance; Service Level 2- employable at a salary above minimum wage with more intensive services and/or short- term training; Service Level 3- employable at a salary above minimum wage after overcoming barriers such as illness, or lack of education, and/or work experience.
Utah All, except Two Parent Families Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, Counseling, Life skills training, Community service. Varies by individual; negotiated with caseworker as part of employability plan.
Vermont All, except Two Parent Families Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, High school/GED, English as 2nd language, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job search, On-the-job training, Work supplement/subsidized job. Determined on a case by case basis with caseworker and specified in employment plan.
Virginia All Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Basic or remedial education, high school or GED, ESL, Post-secondary education, Job skills training, Job readiness activities, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP. 30 hours per week
Washington All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count towards the required hours: Job development and placement, Job search, On-the-job training, Unsubsidized job, Work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, Self-employment, Community service. 20
West Virginia All, except Two Parent Families and Minor Parents Within 24 months of receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count toward the first 20 hours of the requirement: job search, on-the-job training, job skills training, job readiness activities, unsubsidized job, work supplement/subsidized job, CWEP/AWEP, job search, community service, and child care provider for another. In addition to these activities, the following activities may count toward the remaining 10 hours of the requirement: basic/remedial education, high school/GED, English as a second language, and job skills training. To remain eligible for assistance, recipients must work at least 5 hours per week in any activity by the end of the 24-month period unless temporarily exempt. Minimum of 30 hours per week. Federal welfare to work funding began 1/99.

TABLE 9.4
Welfare work requirements by state

State Welfare recipient type When work activity must begin Work activities requirements Notes on work requirements Hours required Notes
Wisconsin All, except Two Parent Families Immediately after assessment Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count toward the first 28 hours of the requirement: job readiness, job development and placement, unsubsidized job, community service, counseling, on-the-job training, and life skills training. In addition to these activities, the following activities may count toward the remaining 12 hours of the requirement: basic or remedial education, high school/GED, English as a Second Language, post secondary education, job skills training, and life skills training. Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count toward the first 28 hours of the requirement: job readiness, job development and placement, unsubsidized job, community service, counseling, on-the-job training, and life skills training. In addition to these activities, the following activities may count toward the remaining 12 hours of the requirement: basic or remedial education, high school/GED, English as a Second Language, post secondary education, job skills training, and life skills training. Generally 40 hours per week
Wyoming All, except Two Parent Families Upon receipt of benefits Participation in allowable activities to the extent that they are available. The following activities may count toward the first 20 hours of the requirement: job readiness activities, job search, On-the-Job- Training, unsubsidized employment, work supplementation/subsidized employment, and CWEP/AWEP. In addition to these activities, the following activities may count toward the remaining hours of the requirement: job skills training or high school/GED. 40 (field supervisors may approve a reduction to 30 hours if they deem appropriate)
SOURCE: "Welfare Work Requirements by State," adapted from The Welfare Rules Database, The Urban Institute, 2000 [Online] http://newfederalism.urban.org/WRD [accessed February 5, 2004]
  • Collaboration with the business community to develop strategies that provide recipients with the skills and training employers want.
  • Use of several types of subsidies for employers who hire welfare recipients directly (subsidizing wages, providing tax credits to employers, subsidizing workers' compensation and unemployment compensation taxes).
  • Targeting state jobs for welfare recipients.
  • Financial encouragement for entrepreneurship and self-employment.
  • Creation of community service positions, often within city departments, such as parks and libraries. (Recipients usually participate in this "workfare" as a condition of continuing to receive benefits rather than wages.)

These ideas are not yet fully tested, so their potential to meet the goals of welfare reform is unknown. The different approaches provide an opportunity to learn which programs succeed and which fall short. Careful state evaluation of their programs is crucial.

An In-Depth Evaluation of "Work First" Programs in Five States

In Building an Employment Focused Welfare System: Work First and Other Work-Oriented Strategies in Five States (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 1999), Pamela A. Holcomb and her colleagues offered the first in-depth comparative analyses of how well states are adapting to work-oriented welfare systems. The study of five selected states showed that strategies to promote employment, supported by a strong economy, were effective in moving significant numbers of welfare recipients into jobs. The report was based on site visits in early 1997 to Indiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin, states that have experienced large caseload declines. These five states had begun reorganizing their welfare systems to emphasize a "work first" approach before Congress passed the 1996 welfare reform law.

Typical practices in all five states included (1) making the job search the first and major activity, (2) restricting participation in education and training, (3) imposing stricter participation and work requirements, (4) enforcing heavy penalties for noncompliance, and (5) setting time limits on assistance. Nonetheless, despite the similarities, each state had its own unique plan for welfare reform. For instance, Virginia gave recipients the greatest opportunity to combine assistance with employment but also imposed harsh penalties for noncompliance. Both Virginia and Massachusetts required work sooner than the other states and depended heavily on community-service programs to engage recipients in some form of work. Of the states studied, Oregon had developed the most successful program for creating subsidized job opportunities for welfare recipients.

However, the researchers warn that a "work first" approach by itself cannot help all welfare recipients. It works best for individuals who are already fairly employable. It is less effective in helping those with significant barriers to employment or in helping recipients stay employed. Tracking a sample of recipients over a one-year period, the study found that, by the end of the year, 31 to 44 percent of the participants were still receiving cash assistance or were back on welfare, whether they had a job or not. Holcomb, who directed the study, said, "It's a strategy that gets a lot of people off the rolls quickly, but that's not the same as keeping them off welfare or moving families out of poverty."

More recently, states have turned their attention to the needs of those with barriers to employment, including health problems, low educational and skill levels, difficulties speaking English, substance abuse, mental health problems, and victimization by domestic violence. These are people who require intensive supportive services in order to obtain employment and for whom a "work first" approach is not appropriate.

As part of its Assessing the New Federalism project, the Urban Institute initiated case studies at seventeen sites in thirteen states in 1996 and 1997 to examine the impact of welfare reform. Follow-up case studies conducted in 2000 found that nine out of the seventeen sites had begun to use an enhanced mixed model to assist those with barriers to employment, compared to only one county in 1997. This approach generally includes an in-depth assessment of barriers to employment and specialized services for hard-to-employ individuals.

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