Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Helping People Get Ready to Go to Work After Welfare

By Kate Giammarise / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It’s just after 8:30 a.m. on a recent weekday, and in a room Downtown next to the Allegheny County Assistance Office, the day’s session has begun in Howard Williams’ job search class.

There are motivational slogans written on pieces of paper taped to the gray walls: “We can’t spell success without U.”

“That some achieve great success is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.”

“You’ve got to learn to listen and listen to learn.”

‘Mr. Howard’s class’

Many of Mr. Williams’ students are there because they receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families — also known as cash assistance, or welfare.

Far fewer people receive welfare today than 1996, when welfare reform was passed. In Pennsylvania, a little over 531,000 people were receiving welfare in August 1996, when President Bill Clinton signed the reform bill into law. As of June, Pennsylvania had fewer than 158,000 TANF recipients, a decline of more than 70 percent.

Those who do receive the assistance are required to attend classes like this one for at least 20 hours each week.