10/12/09 — Work First enrollees to wait for benefits

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Work First enrollees to wait for benefits

By Laura Collins
Published in News on October 12, 2009 1:54 PM

Participants in the Work First program who receive cash assistance checks will now have to wait until the end of the month for their benefits.

Beginning this month, as part of the newly state-implemented Work First Benefits/Pay for Perform-ance philosophy, participants who are work eligible will have to complete requirements of actively working, actively engaging in activities that lead to work or actively searching for work before receiving a check, rather than receiving payment before completing the requirements, according to the state Department of Social Services.

Charlene Morris, Wayne County Department of Social Services Work First program director, said it's likely the change will have a positive impact on the participants.

"It will encourage the participants to do the activities they are required to do to receive the payment," she said. "They have to cooperate with all the requirements on the agreement to receive the check."

June Medford, Work First unit supervisor at the Wayne County Department of Social Services, said the program can help participants head in the right direction.

"Most will be required to participate for 35 hours per week. They need to do some training or federally approved work-related activities," she said. "It might mean working toward a GED or getting a diploma. For someone who has a poor work history, it helps to provide work experience or someone who can be a good work reference."

During the transition to Work First Benefits, the county DSS will send a one-time "crisis prevention" check equal to the amount of their payment for October.

The Work First program, which began is 1995, is based on the premise that parents have a responsibility to support themselves and their children. Through Work First, parents can get short-term training and other services to help them become employed and self-sufficient, but the responsibility is theirs, and most families have two years to move off Work First Family Assistance, according to the state DSS.