Work and Welfare

Current AFDC Work Programs and Implications for Federal Policy Gao ID: HRD-87-34 January 29, 1987

In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on employment-related programs for applicants and recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) benefits.

GAO found that: (1) the states' division of work program responsibilities between AFDC offices and employment agencies resulted in duplication of staffs and services; (2) federal regulations for the various program options sometimes conflicted, making coordination difficult; (3) in 1985, work programs reached a minority of adult AFDC recipients, an estimated 22 percent in states with work incentives programs (WIN); and (4) WIN assisted participants primarily in job search and immediate placement, rather than skills improvement. GAO also found that, of the 61 programs it surveyed: (1) 59 offered child care assistance to their participants, but half spent less than 6.4 percent of their 1985 budgets for this purpose; (2) sixty provided transportation assistance, with the median program spending 6.9 percent of its budget; (3) most participants ended up with low-paying or part-time jobs, and less than 48 percent of the participants left AFDC after finding work; and (4) economic conditions and problems participants faced in making the transition from welfare to work limited positive results. GAO noted that, with few federal reporting requirements or standard definitions, programs collected the data they chose, making comparisons difficult. GAO believes that, in deliberating legislative proposals to change work program policy, Congress should develop a coherent, streamlined federal work program policy that would preserve some of the more desirable features of the programs begun in the past 5 years.

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