COMMISH: CITY MAY TEST REALITY OF WELFARE-TO-WORK

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For the first time since City Hall began forcing tens of thousands of city welfare recipients into workfare slots two years ago, the Giuliani administration has said officials will begin tracking program participants to determine whether or not they get paid jobs after leaving welfare.

The mayor has long claimed his Work Experience Program is a smashing success, but he has been unable to document workers’ reported transitions to economic independence after picking up trash in exchange for their welfare checks.

On Thursday, Human Resources Administration Commissioner Lilliam Barrios-Paoli told Councilmember Stephen DiBrienza’s General Welfare Committee that she would like to follow workfare alumni for a year once they leave the welfare rolls. She said HRA wants to know whether they have found and kept jobs, gotten married, moved out of state or wound up back on welfare.

“That’s the most significant thing your agency can do,” DiBrienza replied. He added he was concerned that the more than 100,000 workfare participants who had left the welfare rolls had not found jobs but had instead been sanctioned for failing to comply with overly rigid work requirements.

Barrios-Paoli also said the city may need 12,000 new daycare slots in order to cope with the number of parents required to work under the new federal law. She added that the mayor supports Governor Pataki and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on placing mothers in work assignments as soon as their children are three months old. The city also supports drug testing of all public assistance recipients, she said.

She said the city plans to place more WEP workers with community-based organizations–preferably in positions that will teach them job skills.