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August 21, 1998: Welfare Caseloads Continue to Decline

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"We've got to prove that we did the right thing in welfare reform for all the American people that are willing to do the right thing by themselves, their children, and our country."

-- President Bill Clinton

An Unprecedented Decline In Welfare Rolls. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala has announced that welfare caseloads have declined to roughly 8.4 million recipients and slightly over 3 million families as of June 1998. These caseload numbers continue a trend of dramatic reductions in welfare recipients since President Clinton took office:

  • The number of recipients on welfare has dropped by more than 41 percent, including a decline of more than 30 percent since the enactment of welfare reform legislation in 1996;

  • There are 5.7 million fewer recipients on the welfare rolls, and 3.8 million fewer recipients since the President signed welfare reform legislation in 1996;

  • Welfare rolls continue to decline steadily, with nearly 2 percent reductions each month, double the rate for the same period in 1997.

A New Initiative To Help States Devise Welfare To Work Strategies. The Department of Health and Human Services has announced the issuance of grants to 13 states to provide technical assistance on sharing information about existing job retention strategies for welfare recipients and the methods for evaluating these strategies with current and former welfare recipients. In addition, a contract has been approved for a private sector company to provide: (1) technical and evaluation assistance to grantees for the purpose of defining, developing, and refining job retention and advancement intervention strategies, (2) expert technical and evaluation assistance, (3) review of the field operations of grantees to document job retention/advancement focused program elements.

Building On A record Of Achievement. In 1996, President Clinton signed sweeping welfare reform legislation aimed at moving welfare recipients onto the payrolls. Since then, efforts to move people off the welfare rolls and onto the payrolls include:

  • Welfare-To-Work Grants. As part of the balanced budget legislation signed last year, the Administration fought for $3 billion in welfare-to-work grants, to help move long-term welfare recipients into lasting unsubsidized jobs. Welfare-to-Work grants allocated by the Department of Labor allow localities to target the needs of welfare recipients in their communities. Among the services these grants can provide are job placement, on-the-job training, community service jobs and other work experience opportunities, employment assistance for non-custodial parents, and job retention services such as child care, transportation, and substance abuse treatment.

  • The Welfare-To-Work Coalition To Sustain Success. Last year, the Vice President launched the Welfare-to-Work Coalition to Sustain Success, a cooperative effort among national civic, service, and faith-based organizations that work with states and local agencies to help those moving from welfare to work succeed on the job. This partnership includes such groups as the YMCA, YWCA, Salvation Army, United Way, Boys and Girls Clubs, Goodwill, and the Women's Missionary Union, who provide mentoring, job training, child care transportation and other support to help these workers with the transition to self-sufficiency.

  • The Welfare-to-Work Partnership, an independent, non-partisan effort by companies nationwide to hire welfare recipients, was launched just over a year ago. The Welfare-to-Work Partnership is making great progress, over 5,000 companies of all sizes have joined the Partnership and 135,000 former welfare recipients have been hired. In addition, the Partnership has released a report, The Road to Retention, that includes case histories of 16 businesses, showing that retention rates for former welfare recipients are higher than for non-welfare hires.

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