Welfare-to-work standards being waived
By Rachel Weaver
Published: Saturday, July 14, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Updated: Saturday, July 14, 2012
Under a new federal directive, states can apply for waivers regarding work requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, commonly known as welfare.
A memo issued on Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates it can allow states to “test alternative and innovative strategies, policies and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.”
Critics question the department's authority to allow waivers and complain that the Obama administration is trying to reverse reforms from the mid-1990s.
“What they've done is abolished federal work standards,” said Robert Rector, a welfare expert with the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank. “They found a very dubious loophole and are now saying whatever is written in the law doesn't matter.”
The department said Republican and Democratic state officials requested the waivers.
“Federal rules dictate mind-numbing details about how to run a welfare-to-work program. Most states and experts agree that these aren't helpful,” George Sheldon, acting assistant secretary for the department's Administration for Children and Families, said in a statement on the department's website. “The new policy we announced will allow states to test new, more effective ways to help parents successfully prepare for, find, and retain employment.”
Under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, states receive federal money to develop and implement their own welfare programs. It requires certain levels of participation in activities including job training, vocational educational training or secondary school attendance.
Single parents must participate an average of 30 hours per week, 20 if they have a child younger than 6. Two-parent families must participate for an average of 35 hours a week or 55 hours if they receive federal child care assistance.
“Under current TANF rules, many states report that their caseworkers are spending more time complying with federal documentation requirements than helping parents find jobs. We need state workers spending less time filling out data reports and more time helping parents find employment,” Sheldon wrote.
Some question the department's authority to allow for such waivers.
“Eliminating the work requirements and turning back the clock to once again make welfare a system that simply writes checks is insulting to taxpayers who are already struggling to make ends meet in the Obama economy,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or email@example.com.
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Tom The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) is a United States federal law considered to be a fundamental shift in both the method and goal of federal cash assistance to the poor. The bill added a workforce development component to welfare legislation, encouraging employment among the poor. The bill was a cornerstone of the Republican Contract with America and was introduced by Rep. E. Clay Shaw, Jr. (R-FL-22) who believed welfare was partly responsible for bringing immigrants to the United States. Bill Clinton signed PRWORA into law on August 22, 1996, fulfilling his 1992 campaign promise to "end welfare as we have come to know it." PRWORA instituted Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). which became effective July 1, 1997. TANF replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, which had been in effect since 1935 and supplanted the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training program (JOBS) of 1988. The law was heralded as a "reassertion of America's work ethic" by the US Chamber of Commerce, largely in response to the bill's workfare component. TANF was reauthorized in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.
Submitted by: Tom on Saturday, July 14, 2012
Hail King Barrack! We don't need no stinking Congress or Constitution to rule the land! Laws? whats that, a new breakfast cereal? @John. Study your history, a Republican House and Senate wrote and passed the Bill. Clinton signed it because it was the right thing to do and still is. There is no provision in the law to change it on the fly because the King says so.
Submitted by: John L on Saturday, July 14, 2012
I wonder if Rep Camp is struggling to make ends meet in an economy created by Ronald Reagan. and by the way the Welfare to Work reform was begun by Bill Clinton. Gee you would think Republican would like less paper work?