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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 25, 1999
      New Steps To Help Fathers Support Their Children And Families
            Presidential Hall, Old Executive Office Building

                           January 25, 1999

With welfare caseloads down by nearly half since 1993 and over 10,000 companies committed to welfare-to-work, President Clinton will announce today a new package of initiatives designed to ensure that those remaining on the welfare rolls make a successful transition from welfare to work. These initiatives have a new focus -- to increase the employment of low-income fathers so they can support their children. The President's $1 billion Welfare-to-Work initiative would help 200,000 more people work. At least $150 million is dedicated to helping fathers fulfill their responsibilities to their children by working and paying child support. Remaining funds focus on long-term welfare recipients with the greatest obstacles to employment. The President also will announce that his budget will contain new welfare-to-work housing vouchers, transportation funds, and tax credits to help those on welfare get to work and stay employed. These initiatives would provide parents the tools they need to support their children and succeed in the workforce.

Welfare-to-Work Funds with a Focus on Fathers The President's $1 billion Welfare-to-Work initiative would help 200,000 long-term welfare recipients in high-poverty areas move into lasting unsubsidized employment. It is an extension of the two-year, $3 billion Welfare-to-Work program the President secured in the 1997 Balanced Budget Act. The initiative, as reauthorized, provides at least $150 million to ensure that every state helps fathers fulfill their responsibilities by working, paying child support, and playing a responsible part in their children's lives. Under this proposal, states and communities would use a minimum of 20 percent of their formula funds to provide job placement and job retention assistance to low-income fathers who sign personal responsibility contracts committing them to work and pay child support. This effort would further increase child support collections, which have risen 80 percent since the President took office, from $8 billion in 1992 to $14.4 billion in 1998. Remaining funds go toward assisting long-term welfare recipients with the greatest barriers to employment to move into lasting jobs. The reauthorized program also doubles the welfare-to-work funding available for tribes.

Also, the Department of Labor will announce today the availability of $240 million in competitive grants from the current $3 billion Welfare-to-Work program. These funds will support innovative local welfare-to-work strategies for individuals with limited English proficiency, disabilities, substance abuse problems, or a history of domestic violence.

Transportation and Housing for Families Moving From Welfare to Work The President also will announce today that his budget will contain $580 million for welfare to work housing vouchers and transportation assistance to help those on welfare obtain work and stay employed. The President's budget will provide $430 million for 75,000 welfare-to-work housing vouchers, including $144 million in new funds for 25,000 additional vouchers. This is a 50-percent increase over the 50,000 vouchers the President secured last year. The vouchers would help families move closer to a new job, reduce a long commute, or secure more stable housing so they can perform better on the job. The President's budget also increases Access to Jobs transportation funding from $75 million to $150 million, doubling the number of individuals and communities that can receive transportation assistance. This competitive grant program supports innovative state and local transportation solutions such as shuttles, van pools, new bus routes, and connector services to mass transit to help welfare recipients and other low-income workers get to work.

Private Sector Hiring from the Welfare Rolls The President will announce that his budget will include $530 million to extend for one year Welfare to Work and Work Opportunity Tax Credits to encourage more employers to hire welfare recipients and other disadvantaged individuals. Already, in response to the President's challenge two years ago in his State of the Union Address, 10,000 companies have joined the Welfare to Work Partnership and hired, retained, and promoted hundreds of thousands of former welfare recipients. Forty-two percent of these companies are very small businesses (25 or fewer employees), while four percent are very large businesses (3,000 or more employees).

Welfare Rolls Decline as More Recipients Go to Work The President will release state-by-state data showing that welfare caseloads are at their lowest level in 30 years and that the welfare rolls have fallen by nearly half since he took office. Since January 1993, 36 states have had caseload declines of more than 40 percent and nationwide the rolls have fallen by 44 percent, from 14.1 million to just below 8 million. Information released recently by the Department of Health and Human Services also shows that the percentage of welfare recipients working has tripled since 1992, that an estimated 1.5 million people who were on welfare in 1997 were working in 1998, and that all states met the first overall work participation rates required under the welfare reform law.