Welfare Reform Will Change the Safety Net

  • Debate is still taking place on two bills (House Bill 408 and 215) in the Ohio House regarding changes in the welfare system. A number of themes have emerged, which will probably become law in the near future.
  • Spread over seven years, A recipient will be allowed 3 years of benefits, followed by a 2 year wait before receiving the final two years of benefits.
  • There will be a severe shortage in the number of slots available for child care, especially for low-wage or so called working poor families. Childcare slots will be guaranteed for those participating in the TANF program (formerly ADC) commonly known as welfare.
  • The local county commissioners will have direct responsibility for oversight of the program. There will be local goals that the commissioners will be expected to meet. If the goals are not met the county could be sanctioned with repeated offenses. There are rewards for counties that reduce the number of people using the welfare system of cash, which can be used for any purpose.
  • Families who do not engage in work related activities (30 hours a week) will be sanctioned, which would involve reduction in the food stamp program. 10 hours of this requirement can involve education activities. There is debate around sanctioning a family by removing them from welfare for 6 months if the parent fails to not engage in work activities.
  • Counties may exempt 20% of the TANF population from the 30 hour work requirement.
  • It is expected that Medicaid eligibility will expand to include all children of families earning less than 150% of poverty.
  • At this time there is no assistance to get individuals to the work that they are expected to find. Transportation to jobs has not been an issue in the current plan.
  • The plan will most likely be phased in over the state over a 2 year period, with counties starting the process at different phases.
  • Those who were excluded from Social Security Disability because of new federal rules excluding the drug and alcohol abuse related ailments may qualify for state Disability Assistance.

Copyright for the Homeless Grapevine and NEOCH, Issue 21, Cleveland Ohio June 1996