Tuesday, April 02, 2002

County readies reinstatement welfare rules

By Dan Klepal, dklepal@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County commissioners are expected Wednesday to approve new rules for people who want to be reinstated to the welfare rolls.

        Ohio has a three-year limit for people to receive cash assistance from the government.

        But after being off the welfare rolls for two years, people with children can apply for reinstatement for an additional two years.

        To qualify, county residents will have to show they have made “reasonable efforts toward self-sufficiency.”

        They can do that by:

        • Showing gross income earnings from nine of the previous 24 months at least equal to the welfare checks they received.

        • Showing participation in orientation classes plus any combination of five workshops or five days in intensive services at the local Workforce Investment Act agency.

        The first group was forced off the welfare rolls in October 2000.

        Rick Koopman, a section chief for the county's Department of Job and Family Services, which runs the welfare program, said about 25 people will be eligible to apply for reinstatement this October.

        The number eligible to apply for reinstatement will rise to between 50 and 75 in each month after October, Mr. Koopman said.

        Officials are estimating that up to two-thirds of those eligible might apply for reinstatement.

        Commissioner Todd Portune said he'd like to know why such a high percentage of people are expected to apply for help. He said it appears the welfare-to-work was an “abject failure.”

        Mr. Koopman said that's not the complete picture.

        “That doesn't consider the population that never made it to their time limit,” because they were trained and got jobs before becoming ineligible for welfare, Mr. Koopman said.

        Counties must have a policy in place regarding reinstatement before October.

        He said his department would like the policy set well in advance so people know the rules.


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