COLUMBUS: Ohio’s effort to find jobs for welfare recipients has fallen short, according to new report.
A $66 million program launched six months ago has so far come up with work for 257 Ohioans, and three-quarters are earning $10 an hour or less. Of that number, just five were still employed after 90 days.
And half of the state’s 20 regional workforce boards trying to make placements have found no one a job, according to the Columbus Dispatch, which reported on the Jan. 24 summary by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
The Ohio Works Incentive Program was intended to help people get from welfare to work, but state officials acknowledge that initial results are underwhelming.
“It is a small group, but it is a very hard-to-serve group and it is a group that needs intensive and long-term assistance to move out of poverty and stay out of poverty,” said Benjamin Johnson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. “That’s why the program was set up, to create incentives for placing people in jobs and keeping them in jobs.”
John Trott, executive director of the Area 7 Workforce Investment Board based in Springfield that serves 43 counties, said getting people from welfare to work is a challenge. Welfare recipients tend to need a lot of support and case-management services to deal with an array of issues, he said.
Ohio’s welfare rolls have plunged to record lows but poverty persists. Three-year limits for cash assistance along with stepped-up enforcement of work and training requirements pushed many off the rolls even though they had not gotten a job. Those remaining face many obstacles to employment.