passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996
changed the system of providing public welfare in the
. The inherent message of
this federal legislation is that individuals
must take personal responsibility for becoming self-sufficient.
Benefits became time-limited and states were directed to develop
program requirements that move people toward economic independence.
1997, Governor George Pataki signed into law the
Welfare Reform Act, implemented
in April 1998.
adopted the Family Violence Option
as part of this legislation. This
portion of the law allows Department of Social Services staff to address
safety needs of domestic violence victims and to offer grant waivers for
certain work requirements when appropriate.
federal law mandated the following:
2002, half of all states welfare recipients must
be working in the private sector or participating in community
services for job training.
spending on welfare is issued to states in the form of “Block
Grants” with requirements that States institute job training, day
care for children, transportation, and other transitional support
services. The Act ended
the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) entitlement.
Funding goes to states as Temporary
Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).
adult can collect cash benefits for no
more than five years in their lifetime.
citizen immigrants are ineligible for welfare.
person convicted of a drug-related crime is ineligible for cash
welfare reform, there was a major paradigm shift where local departments
of social services staff are now more focused on the “temporary”
nature of financial assistance. Work
with needy families stresses helping them achieve self-sufficiency.
Government monies for job training are allocated for job
development and placement, child care, transportation, and other services
to support a family’s move off of “traditional” welfare. Sanctions
are issued for non-compliant applicant/recipients.
Requirements for the evaluation and treatment of a person unable to
work due to drug or alcohol addiction are in place.
the changes in federal and state laws, the essential mission for county
agencies focuses on “diverting” persons from welfare to jobs.
Where barriers to this accomplishment for each “employable”
person are identified,
the agency provides access to services for individuals with
mental health or health problems, chemical addictions, lack of
transportation, housing or child care, and domestic violence.
1997, the Washington County Department of Social Services has operated
successfully within the “welfare reform” framework.
In October 2002, the county was recognized
’s Commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA)
for being ranked fourth in the
state transitioning persons from “welfare-to-work.”
Welfare diversion provides a means for leading
residents toward self-sufficiency and supports them in the process.