HHS Approves District of Columbia Welfare Demonstration Project

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HHS News Release

HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala today announced approval of "Project on Work, Employment, Responsibility (POWER)," a welfare demonstration project approved for the District of Columbia under the fast-track waiver process. The District of Columbia is the fourth fast-track waiver and the 77th state welfare waiver approved under the Clinton Administration.

"As President Clinton prepares to sign historic welfare reform legislation that fulfills his principles of requiring work and promoting parental responsibility, he also continues his commitment to state flexibility," said Secretary Shalala. "This waiver lays a strong foundation for the District of Columbia's new welfare program."

Under POWER, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) benefits are limited to five years, with some exemptions. Recipients who are not employed at the end of the time limit will be required to work with their caseworker to develop a plan to move them toward self-sufficiency within a definite time frame. The plan will outline expectations and stipulate activities and support services. Parents must participate in JOBS activities from the time the child is 12 weeks old.

To encourage the transition from welfare to work, half of earned income plus $100 per month will be disregarded when figuring eligibility.

Teen parents will be required to live with a parent or guardian, who will receive cash assistance for the minor in the form of protective payments. Minor parents who exceed ten unexcused absences in one school year will be placed in probationary status the following year and removed from the grant if there is more than one unexcused absence in the previous month. They will retain Medicaid eligibility.

"Insuring that minor and teen parents live in an adult-supervised setting and complete their education will make them better parents and providers for their children," said Mary Jo Bane, assistant secretary for children and families. "With this demonstration, the District of Columbia moves closer to ending welfare as we know it."

Last year, President Clinton initiated the fast-track waiver approval process. States that submit applications, in an easy to complete form, that fulfill any or all of five promising criteria will receive approval within 30 days. States can establish new work requirements with necessary child care, impose time limits followed by jobs for those willing to work, require minor mothers to live at home and stay in school, make parents pay child support or go to work, and use AFDC and Food Stamps as cash subsidies to private employers to hire welfare recipients.

The demonstration is authorized for 10 years, and will include a rigorous evaluation. Under the welfare reform bill passed by Congress, states that have waivers approved prior to the law's enactment generally may continue their waivers even when they conflict with the legislation.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.

Contact: Michael Kharfen (202) 401-9215
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