South Carolina Waiver Signed

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HHS News Release

HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala today approved the South Carolina Self-Sufficiency and Personal Responsibility Program, a welfare demonstration for South Carolina.

"This demonstration will test an approach to reforming welfare that seeks to firmly but fairly move people quickly to work," said Secretary Shalala. "This administration continues its commitment to grant states the flexibility to experiment with new approaches in their individual welfare programs."

Under the program, each Aid to Families with Dependent Children recipient will be required to work with a caseworker to develop and sign an Individual Self-Sufficiency Plan (ISSP). Each plan will include a series of steps to prepare the recipient for work <>and a timetable for completion.

Upon completion of the ISSP provisions, the individual will be considered job-ready, and will have 30 days while still covered by AFDC to find a job in the area of training completed under the ISSP. If a job in that field is not found, the recipient will have an additional 30 days in which to find any job in the private sector. If the recipient has not found a job at the end of this period, the person will be required to accept a public sector job provided by the state. There will be progressive sanctions for non-compliance, which may ultimately result in removal of the entire family from assistance.

"South Carolina's project has unique features. It emphasizes the responsibility of the recipient to stick to a structured and specific plan for work, while offering incentives to make work pay," said Mary Jo Bane, HHS assistant secretary for children and families. "We will watch the results closely."

To help families make the transition to self-sufficiency, a "phase-down" period will allow recipients who take jobs to receive additional but reduced AFDC benefits for up to 12 months. Benefits will amount to 20 percent of the original grant during the first three months, 15 percent during the second, 10 percent during the third, and 5 percent during the final three months. Families will remain eligible for Medicaid and child care throughout the "phase-down" period, after which they will be eligible for regular transitional Medicaid and child care benefits.

The project also raises the AFDC resource limit to $3,000 and exempts the cash value of life insurance policies, the value of one vehicle, and the amount of interest and dividend payments.

Children of participants in the program will be required to maintain satisfactory school attendance and receive appropriate immunizations.

The demonstration will operate in four counties: Berkeley, Dorchester, Charleston and Barnwell for a period of five years. There will be a rigorous evaluation.

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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