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A top New York City welfare official testified before Congress last week, urging the feds to proceed cautiously as they reopen the debate on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Though the city remains committed to requiring recipients to work for their benefits, explained David Hansell, chief of staff at the Human Resources Administration, it considers the Bush administration’s proposed work participation rates untenable for New York. The plan would require as much as 70 percent of all welfare recipients to work, while less than 50 percent of New York recipients are considered fully employable. Those who can work still need help, Hansell explained, asking the feds to ramp up supports like child care, housing, and Medicaid to families who have recently left the rolls. NYC’s final recommendation: Keep future generations off the rolls. To do that, said Hansell, strengthen public education, offer families counseling (possibly using marriage promotion funds), and improve work-experience and vocational education for young people. [02/14/05]

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