Transforming the Broken Welfare System
The Vice President actively participated in the administration's welfare reform efforts, from development of policy proposals to ensuring successful implementation. The bipartisan Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, dramatically changed the nation's welfare system into one that requires work in exchange for time limited assistance. Since the passage of the Act, the welfare rolls have fallen by 46% to the lowest level in over 30 years and millions of people have moved from welfare to work-1.3 million in 1998 alone. As a result of record caseload declines, and the flexibility provided by this Administration's regulations, states now have unprecedented opportunities to use their welfare reform funds to invest in those families remaining on the rolls and to help low-income working families succeed in the workforce with child care, transportation, and other services. States can also use these resources to help non-custodial parents work and support their children as well as to strengthen two parent families.
This year, the Vice President strongly supports provisions in administration's FY2001 budget that will ensure that more child support goes directly to families by allowing states to simplify distribution rules and passing through more child support payments to families. He also supports $255 million for the first year of a new "Fathers Work/Families Win" initiative to promote responsible fatherhood and support working families, which is the critical next step in reforming welfare and reducing child poverty. For more information on Administration's Welfare Accomplishments (link to the Administration web site)
Since the enactment of welfare reform, the Vice President provided leadership on two major initiatives, the Welfare-to-Work Coalition to Sustain Success and the Federal Welfare to Work Hiring Initiative. The Vice President also played a key role in supporting the efforts of the Welfare to Work Partnership.
The Welfare-to-Work Coalition to Sustain Success
In May 1997, the Vice President formed the Welfare to Work Coalition to Sustain Success. This coalition mobilizes civic, religious and non-profit groups around the nation to help welfare recipients succeed in the workforce through mentoring and other support services. Through the Vice President's Welfare-to-Work Coalition to Sustain Success, these groups have: (1) coordinated civic, service and faith-based organizations efforts at a national level and encouraged chapters to participate in local welfare-to-work programs, (2) showcased successful mentoring and training programs around the country, and (3) worked with the Welfare to Work Partnership and other employers to hire welfare recipients.
Charter members include: Alpha Kappa Alpha, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the Baptist Joint Committee, Goodwill, Salvation Army, the United Way, Women's Missionary Union, the YMCA, the YWCA and other civic and faith-based organizations. Members are doing excellent work in transportation, mentoring, job training and other areas. The following are some examples of what members have been able to accomplish since the Coalition began.
Adventist Community Services launched a nationwide tutoring and mentoring initiative with a satellite uplink seminar for local units including 2,000 churches that co-sponsor local programs. Goodwill Industries expanded their programs to accommodate individuals leaving the welfare rolls, providing services for an estimated 55,000 welfare recipients between 1998 and 1999.
The International Association of Jewish Vocational Services has served nearly 20,000 welfare recipients from both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities between 1998 and 1999. In November 1998, Vice President Gore announced that IAJVS, among others Regional Employment and Training Initiatives to place long-term welfare recipients into health care industry jobs.
The Salvation Army in Buffalo NY operates a training program targeted to welfare recipients. The training curriculum offers a job skills, balancing work and family responsibilities, communication, GED and English as a Second Language Classes.
The United Way of Metropolitan Nashville works with Opry Mills Corporation and the Rockefeller Foundation to provide job training and placement assistance to welfare recipients.
The Women's Missionary Union launched a special project called Christian Women's Job Corp with 40 sites nationwide to assist former welfare recipients and other women in learning life skills, completing their education and obtaining and retaining successful employment.
The Federal Hiring Initiative
In March 1997, the Vice President took on the important role of leading the Administration in the effort to hire former welfare recipients to become productive members of the federal workforce. While the Vice President led the effort to reduce the size of the federal workforce to its smallest level in forty years, he also realized that the federal government, as the largest employer in this country, needed to do its part to hire welfare recipients into jobs. With the leadership of Vice President Gore, federal agency heads made a commitment to hire 10,000 former welfare recipients by the year 2000. Three years later, we have far surpassed that goal hiring 28,634 (as of April 22, 2000). As a part of this effort, federal agencies provide these new employees with services such as job training, mentoring and counseling services, flexible work schedules, assistance with transportation and childcare, and information on resources such as the earned income tax credit. Furthermore, data from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management shows that federal Welfare to Work hires are not only getting off of welfare, but they are staying off and succeeding in their new jobs. Today the retention rate among welfare hires is as good as other federal employees. The federal Welfare to Work hiring initiative provides meaningful job experience to newly hired welfare recipients and enriches the lives of their mentors and colleagues.
The Welfare to Work Partnership
The President and Vice President recognize that there are particular challenges facing former welfare recipients in finding a job and they challenged businesses to do their part to ensure the success of welfare reform. The Welfare to Work Partnership was formed in 1997 in response to this challenge. The Partnership is a nationwide effort to enlist businesses in hiring former welfare recipients. The initiative has been an overwhelming success and now includes 15,000 businesses of all sizes and from all industries. Since 1997, these businesses have hired nearly 650,000 welfare recipients. The Partnership also ensures that businesses are successful in hiring and retaining these new workers by providing technical assistance and support in the form of a newsletter, a web site and a toll free number where its business partners can get help.
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