PHOENIX–Most Arizona families that receive welfare assistance have no one in the home working or training for a full-time job despite a federal mandate to do so, according to a new report from the Goldwater Institute.
In 1996, Congress passed a series of reforms commonly known as welfare-to-work, which reduced the number of people nationwide receiving direct welfare benefits from 4.4 million to 1.7 million by 2007. Welfare-to-work required states to motivate people on welfare to find at least part-time work or to enter job training to prepare for a new career.
Initially, Arizona had success with welfare-to-work. But once the state reduced its welfare enrollment by half, the federal government no longer held Arizona accountable for additional progress. In 2007, 9,662 Arizona families receiving welfare had at least one adult in the house who could work, but didn’t put in a single hour during the week. That made up 60 percent of all work-eligible welfare families.
In Making Welfare Work: Reforming Arizona’s Welfare System to Help Families and Save Money, Katherine K. Bradley, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, explains that other states continue to encourage welfare recipients to find work or job training with additional restrictions that go beyond the federal rules. “Arizona should consider reforms that would move more families into jobs and reduce the current welfare caseload in order to improve citizens’ independence and save millions of taxpayer dollars,” Ms. Bradley says.
Ms. Bradley suggests several steps that Arizona could take to move more people off of welfare, including:
· Set higher targets for getting welfare recipients into jobs or training. Hold staff at Department of Economic Security accountable for reaching those benchmarks.
· Require able-bodied recipients to immediately begin a four-week job search program. Recipients should report daily to a training site and log at least 30 hours a week of job search and training activity.
· Deny an entire welfare check the first time someone fails to report for work or job training.
· Require all parents of children receiving welfare payments to work. Illegal immigrants aren’t eligible for TANF checks, but their U.S.-born children are. U.S. citizens and immigrants alike should be required to work to support their children.
· Rely on private employers and community groups to manage work training and job placement.
Such requirements allowed Georgia to increase its work participation rate from 11 percent to 65 percent in three years, and Texas reduced its welfare enrollment by nearly half between 2003 and 2006.
Read Making Welfare Work: Reforming Arizona’s Welfare System to Help Families and Save Money online or call (602) 462-5000 to have a copy mailed to you.
The Goldwater Institute is an independent government watchdog supported by people who are committed to expanding free enterprise and liberty.