Pa. Department of Welfare changes tack on funding job-assistance programs

Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare plans to change its funding formula for jobs programs for people receiving public assistance. In the new fiscal year starting July 1, the state will base reimbursement rates on how many job-seekers nonprofits place in jobs, and how many workers stay in those jobs.

The state wants to emphasize programs that lead to work as quickly as possible.

This will come with a de-emphasis on training programs.

“We believe that work experience is best achieved through actual work,” says department spokeswoman, Anne Bale.

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“It’s important for people to have sort of that training and job preparation, but we want to get people working and so that’s on the job,” Bale said. “We think it’s much more effective than kind of sitting around training or thinking about work.”

To date, none of the jobs centers in Philadelphia for public assistance recipients meet current state targets for job placement and job retention. Joe Ostrander of the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania says many of his nonprofit members operate work-readiness programs.

“They’re not scared off by incentives, but they need to be realistic, in light of today’s economic situations … and the need of extra training and services for some of the hardest-served populations, such as extremely low-income families and individuals.”

Some argue the state’s increased emphasis on getting clients into the workplace quickly could come at the expense of training for more stable, better-paying employment.

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