Welfare Reform in Washington State. Policy/Program Implementation and Evaluation. The Federal MANDATE (1996)
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Welfare Reform in Washington State
Policy/Program Implementation and Evaluation
WorkFirst in Washington State (1997)
Time Limits: Under WorkFirst, TANF benefits were time-limited for five cumulative years. Medical benefits and food stamps remained entitlements.
Work Requirements: WorkFirst clients had to work. Clients who did not meet work requirements would have their benefits reduced. To help them meet work requirements, clients had to participate in subsidized or unsubsidized employment, job search workshops, on-the-job training, pre-employment training, job-related training, or community service.
Parents of children under the age of three months were exempt from work requirements, as were clients who could not find childcare for children under six.
WorkFirst also provided language instruction for clients with limited English language skills, tuition assistance to low-income working families, and specialized programs for clients who would have the most difficult time transitioning from welfare to work. In addition, WorkFirst provided cash, food stamp, and medical assistance to legal immigrants.
WorkFirst provided subsidized childcare to low-income working families. It also provided assistance with medical costs, while clients were receiving welfare benefits and for up to one year after benefits ended.
Transitional Medicaid remained an entitlement and was provided to families whose income precluded them from receiving TANF.
Food stamps also continued as a federal entitlement, though eligibility requirements changed. Single adults from 18 to 50 without children were limited to 3 months of food stamps in a 36-month period—coverage that could be extended in some situations.
In addition, the State aggressively pursued child support from non-custodial parents, with benefits sanctions.
InputsActivities/Outputs Intermediate Outcomes End Outcomes
Strategy 1: Improve Hard Skills of
Clients to Reflect Hiring Needs of the
-Increase % of clients with adequate hard skills
for standard employment
-Increase % of clients completed continuing ed
for high-wage career advancement
Strategy 2: Improve the Soft Skills of Clients to Aid in Job Placement and Retention
-Increase % of clients with appropriate soft skills
Strategy 3: Reduce Substance Abuse and Mental Health Barriers
-Decrease % of clients with substance abuse
-Decrease % of clients with mental health
Strategy 4: Enhance Access to Day Care
-Decrease % of clients without day care access
Strategy 5: Enhance Access to Transportation
-Decrease % of clients without transportation
Strategy 6: Decrease Barriers Presented by Physical Disability
-Increase % of employers offering “integrative”
workplace for people with disabilities
-Decrease % of clients with physical disability
# jobs created in economy annually; % jobs
created with self-sufficient income potential
Outputs for Strategy 1
-# of clients trained for standard employment
-# of clients trained or completing degree in high-wage employment area
Activities for Strategy 1
-- # of training courses held
-- # training methodologies developed
--# employer surveys completed
--# training promotional kits deployed
--# career counseling sessions provided
-# employers offering continuing education assistance
Increase Self-Sufficiency in the Community through Increased Employment
-Decrease in Welfare
Ratio of $paid to #clients
-# unemployment rate total; # unemployment rate for clients
-% of community achieving a self-sufficient wage; % of clients achieving self-sufficient wage
Analyzing Washington State's Welfare Program Design, WorkFirst
Dan Axelsen, ERS Group &
Hal W. Snarr, North Carolina State A & T
[Public] welfare was reformed through the Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996. PRWORA modified the primary objectives of welfare by placing more emphasis on work experience accumulation and less on human capital accumulation. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) was designed to meet this primary objective. Washington State’s TANF program, WorkFirst, utilizes a progressive system of programs (components) aimed at reducing welfare dependency through labor force participation. WorkFirst components have a variety of objectives including skills training, temporary subsidized employment, and mentoring.
On July 1, 1997 the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program replaced the federal entitlement program, Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in Washington State. TANF provides temporary cash assistance and job training to low-income families with dependent children. Each State is allowed to tailor their welfare program design to the specific needs of their clients.
In August 1997, the State of Washington created WorkFirst as its welfare program designed under TANF. The WorkFirst design discourages welfare dependency through the promotion of labor force participation and sanctions for non-compliance. Programs (components) under WorkFirst provide individuals with mentors, educational opportunities, and paid work experience
CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS