Welfare Implementation Concepts…
1. Early Movement into Employment
Many welfare applicants are work capable and work ready. With short term interventions and job search assistance, these people can avoid becoming dependent. Some families need help with a short-term crisis and don’t need more extensive help. Others will have greater difficulty but should be immediately engaged in work and work preparation activities to minimize their dependency on the welfare system.
- A program for a one-time diversion payment such as Maryland’s
- A four month Diversionary Work Program such as Minnesota’s
- Multiple strategies for immediate engagement from best practices
2. Full Ongoing Engagement in Work and Constructive Activities
Welfare programs involve a social contract where recipients agree to participate in activities that will increase their employment, income and corresponding reduced dependency. In return, government provides benefits, activities and supportive services to help them achieve this outcome. It is best for the long-term benefit of recipients for them to engage in work or work preparation activities during the period they are receiving benefits.
- Multiple strategies from TANF best practices
- Strategies to engage all food stamp recipients who are capable of work
- Transitional or Wage Subsidy jobs (Such as in Maryland, Hawaii, and Oregon)
- Effective sanction policies that will support full engagement
- A minimized use of work exemptions with an emphasis on identifying what participants can do instead of what they cannot do
3. Supporting and Keeping Employment
Research using experimental design, and extensive experience from state operators, has proven over time that work-first is the best way to achieve employment, and in the long run, to succeed in it. Early attachment to the labor force is usually more effective than lengthy training and education because employees without extensive work experience make the most progress and commensurate wage increases while on the job, rather than outside of the labor market in education and training programs. Employment, combined with work supports are together the key to advancement. Work supports often present challenges for both the administering agencies and for low-income workers.
- Work support payments to close working cases with low benefit levels
- Practical Models that Support Low-Income Families and Help Them to Advance
- Employee Assistance Programs – Strategies for Helping Low-wage Workers
- Effective Strategies for Utilizing Internet and Other Technologies to Provide Work Supports to Low Wage Workers
- Strategies for Corporate Support for Employee Health Insurance – For Franchises and Company Owned National Chains
- Work Support Strategies for Low-Wage Service Workers – Child Care, In-Home Care, Foster Parents, Certified Nursing Assistants
- In-Home Distance Learning for Low-Wage Workers to Help Them to Advance
- Strategies to connect low-wage workers with work supports
4. Employing Multiple Populations
TANF is associated primarily with able bodied single parents (usually the mother). There are many other groups both within TANF and in other programs who can benefit from the employment-focused lessons learned. Some of these groups have critical needs which can and should be met. Many of the welfare reform lessons and strategies can be successfully applied to these groups.
- Engagement of TANF/SSI participants
- Develop a Virtual High School
- Re-enroll TANF Parent Drop-outs into School
- Develop a Juvenile One-stop center
- Develop a work-based high school
- Develop a comprehensive strategy for developing multiple alternative education opportunities for young people
- Develop a Cross System Integration approach
- Take advantage of available funding resources for Offender Re-entry efforts
- Build an effective re-entry system
- Use an Experience-Based offender re-entry strategy
- Create a Prison to Community– work focused computer-based training program
- Coordinate Re-entry Work Services between Parole and work programs
- Establish an Opportunity Reconnect type one stop re-entry center
- Implement a mandatory work policy for men
- Establish a Fatherhood Center to help fathers overcome the significant personal, social and economic challenges they face
5. Improving Program Management and Efficiency
Often those outside of program implementers such as state and local agencies believe the policy and program design is the most important factor to success. However, those of us in the business of program operation know that effective implementation is equal to, or more important, than any other factor. Successful reform efforts focus on: affecting legislation and regulation; carefully defining outcomes (work, stability, self-sufficiency); maximizing the use of all available funding streams; using data effectively to describe outcomes; creating a symmetry of incentives and disincentives that can be used to constructively change participant behavior; and improving program integrity.
- Analyze the laws and regulations affecting your program and how you can best work within them or develop a strategy if you wish to change them
- Implement performance based contracts
- Take advantage of funding opportunities
- Define your program outcomes and use data to measure them
- Create a job development strategy
- Use data matching to increase program integrity
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