Massachusetts of Department of Transitional Assistance

A Publication of the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance

Vol. XIX No.9 | September 2004
From the Forms File    |    From the Hotline    |    Quality Corner    |    FYIs    |    Keypoints    |    New Initiatives

 

“There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America …there’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America ”

-Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, July 27, 2004-



 

Commissioner, John WagnerDear Fellow Employees,

This month, I’d like to take a look at some of the changes we have made in the Cash Assistance and Full Engagement Program. The name itself is quite a mouthful but names are often important. In this case, our newly minted program name sends an important message: the full engagement of all of our TAFDC families into jobs and training is as significant as the cash assistance we provide. For almost ten years, Massachusetts has remained at the forefront of welfare reform. As most of you know, before the federal government passed a national welfare reform program, we in the Commonwealth had created and passed our own welfare reform initiative (Chapter 5). The initiative underscores the importance of jobs and training over cash benefits alone in promoting a client’s independence and self-sufficiency.

I continue to pay close attention to the Work Program and how we can fine-tune the requirement. To better serve our clients and conform to federal standards, we are increasing the weekly hours of participation required in Work Program activities. Beginning this month, parents are required to meet the Work Program by performing a minimum of 20 hours of participation if their youngest child is between two and school age, 24 hours if their youngest child is between school age and age nine and 30 hours if their youngest child is age nine or older. Also, a change which took effect in July allows parents to meet the Work Program requirement by participating in an education or training activity.

Common sense tells us that this is a move in the right direction. With the appropriate supports, work and work-related opportunities remind our clients that they are capable of success. With the right job, a parent enhances her self-image as well as the image she presents to her children. Job training and education coordinated with the demands of our current labor market are also beneficial. As we all know, the education process may at times be difficult, but the benefits are unlimited. In either case, whether the decision is a job or job training, the outcome will eventually mean more income for our clients.

You play an essential role in making this happen. We need you to:

  • fully explain the new hourly Work Program requirement as well as the job training options to clients;
  • share the details concerning extended time frames between sanction levels; and
  • explore the expanded good cause reasons with families that are unable to meet the Work Program requirement.

I understand that these steps are not always as simple as they appear. In the short run, they may be more difficult to implement. In the long run, these steps will actually make our task easier. Parents and families that understand the rules and cooperate with our requirements can ultimately require less of our time and become more productive.

Thank you for all of your help towards achieving this.

Sincerely,

John Wagner, Commissioner

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