• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Fenty on Track with Welfare to Work Proposal in DC Budget

    Sunday’s Washington Post reports that the District of Columbia is considering changing its welfare program to restore real work requirements for able-bodied individuals receiving cash assistance. The change is expected to save $6.2 million in the District’s budget. This is a wise move and one that other states and counties should consider making, in light of the budget shortfalls many of them face.

    According to the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, 16,000 households in the District receive cash benefits from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. Despite the federal work requirement that 50 percent of the caseload be engaged in some kind of work or work-related activity for 20-30 hours a week, only 500-600 of the District recipients are participating in work or job-search activities that meet the minimum standard. More than 6,000 families that receive benefits are not engaged in any kind of work or job-search activity at all. The Washington Post reports that about 3,000 TANF recipients in the District have been on the caseload for more than five years.

    Not only does it cost District taxpayers more money when work requirements are not enforced, but it delays the opportunity for families to move out of dependence on the government and into self sufficiency. Living in poverty and on welfare is an unacceptable standard for any person, let alone any child. By recalibrating the District’s welfare program to enforce real work requirements for able-bodied individuals, Mayor Fenty gives new hope and real opportunity to thousands of families that have languished within the system for years. Moreover, the TANF law allows states (and the District) to keep the fiscal savings from moving people off of the rolls. Those savings could be used elsewhere in the state budget for need-based programs.

    Nationwide, caseloads have shrunk by more than half since the monumental 1996 welfare reform law was enacted. States that actively enforced work requirements and created serious programs to educate, train, and place their recipients in jobs saw real results. Caseloads fell and child poverty rates declined dramatically; millions of former recipients were lifted from government dependency to the dignity of working and contributing to their own support.

    Citizens of the District of Columbia should be heartened by this new change to the city’s welfare program and its goal of moving at least 1,000 of its TANF recipients into some kind of work or work-related activity. An even bolder move would be for the mayor to increase this goal to at least half of the 16,000 families that are currently on the rolls. Yet even the stated goal is a step in the right direction. Perhaps, once the District sees the savings from these changes as fewer families are dependent on the government, higher goals can be set and reached.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Fenty on Track with Welfare to Work Proposal in DC Budget

    1. Julia S. - Richmond says:

      Hurray for Mayor Fenty! The Mayor is shifting government dependence back to individual responsibility. If these people are trained and working then they can participate economically in society and that will increase their sense of freedom. Freedom to make decisions and choices without being dictated to by the government. It is great to see this program being implemented on a local level, because 16,000 people in the program is a managable number. Federal intervention will only prolong the problems. Generations who rely on the welfare of the government needs to end.

    2. Kris, Bx NY says:

      I don't care if these people have to sweep the side walk for 6-8hrs a day, make them earn the pay check all working people are providing them. Make them go to senior homes and clean up after our elderly, clean the graffiti off the streets, anything. Just make sure it's the ones who are healthy enough to go out partying while my tax dollars pay for their babysitting, able to reproduce over and over again, well you get my point. Just stop making the already responsible person pay their way.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×