[Hpn] *W2W - Welfare To Work helps single moms find living wage jobs?

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Mon, 25 Sep 2000 12:19:55 -0700 (PDT)

Welfare To Work, is it working?

Are single moms leaving welfare getting and keeping living wage jobs
where you live?

"Work First recipients are likely to end up in low-paying jobs"
which don't last, according to evidence cited below for North Carolina:


Work First challenge harder as program succeeds
FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Sep 23, 2000

RALEIGH (AP) _ Nearly 90,000 people in North Carolina are off
welfare under the state's Work First program, but officials say
more work is needed to make former welfare recipients

Work First is the public assistance program that offers limited
training and restricts cash support to two years. A primary goal of
welfare reform is helping former recipients become economically

``In some ways, the job has gotten a lot harder,'' said Pheon
Beal, North Carolina's chief of economic independence.

Beal helped North Carolina make changes in public assistance
that Congress mandated in the 1990s, resulting in a 60 percent drop
in the state's welfare rolls over the past five years.

``It's one thing to help someone build up job skills, brush up
interview skills and take on some job leads. Helping people sustain
a job over time and balance home and work and school _ that's
tough,'' Beal said.

Social services officials are trying to learn more about the
needs of the single women with young children who are the majority
of Work First clients.

In Durham, the county social services department is spending
$166,000 on a study.

``In many ways, the system had the designed effect. We've
reduced the welfare rolls, and we've reduced the cost,'' said Dan
Hudgins, Durham's social services director. ``Now we are asking
about the larger effects.''

A state survey of former public assistance clients due at the
end of this month will also fill in some of the gaps. But evidence
shows many former Work First recipients are likely to end up in
low-paying jobs, probably in a service industry or the retail

The most recent statewide figures show former clients at jobs
with the potential to pay an average of $12,000 annually after a
full year in the work force.

``Look how easy it is for a family to become homeless when they
can't make ends meet,'' said Jack Rogers, director of economic
self-sufficiency in Wake County. ``I'm concerned because I know
families are struggling.''

Counties continue to provide a range of services to people who
leave Work First and whose incomes remain below 200 percent of the
poverty level, Beal said.

And some counties are already trying to help former clients move
up in the workplace. A help center in Rocky Mount contacts former
Work First recipients in six counties to check on how they are
doing and tries to help them find better jobs.

Despite the struggles, Beal said she is convinced that most
people are better off working.

Documents prepared by her staff show that a three-person family
with no earnings beyond public assistance would be paid only $272
in cash assistance and $321 in food stamps per month.

The same household where one person worked 40 hours a week at
$6.50 an hour would earn $1,388 per month, including a food-stamp
benefit and the federal earned-income tax credit. The household
also would qualify for child-care subsidies and health coverage.

AP-ES-09-23-00 1338EDT
Received  Id AP1002676CD1EB3B on Sep 23 2000 12:38


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