Monday, January 26, 1998
Wisconsin is well on its way to meeting its March 31 deadline of converting all AFDC cases to Wisconsin Works, the Department of Workforce Development announced.
The 12,742 AFDC cases in December is down 59.3 percent since the September 1 statewide implementation of W-2.
In addition to those AFDC cases, another 5,913 were receiving cash payments in December through the first two, paid levels of W-2 for a total of 18,655. That is the fewest number of families dependent on cash assistance since 1969.
Since W-2 started on September 1, there has been a 45.9 percent reduction in families reliant on state financial assistance. That does not, however, translate into a lessening of commitment to Wisconsin's poor, cautioned Linda Stewart, Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development.
Stewart said, "We recognize that while caseload numbers may dwindle, there is a fine line between dependence and independence for people living on the margin. Under the old system, trying to escape welfare dependence was a 'sink or swim' proposition. W-2, by contrast, continues intensive case management and supportive services even for people who are in paying jobs until they are sure and steady on their feet."
In addition, many of those remaining on our caseloads are the hardest to serve, Stewart added. The Secretary also reminded that W-2 was designed to serve ALL of Wisconsin's working poor families, not just those leaving AFDC.
By December 31, W-2 cases had increased 7.5 percent in one month to 10,120 - two-thirds of them in Milwaukee. (Cases which were open for both AFDC and W-2 in the same month are counted as AFDC cases.)
|AFDC & paid W-2||18,655||23,328||27,377||31,476|
as of December 31, 1997
|* includes 577 receiving benefits while caring for infants under 12 weeks old|
This chart represents a snapshot in time taken December 31. The chart on Pages 3 and 4 are cumulative totals of under which program payments were made. A person receiving an AFDC check on December 1 could be in W-2 by the end of the month.
The 18,655 cases receiving cash payments (either AFDC or W-2 with payment) in December declined by 20.0 percent from November which, in turn, was down 14.8 percent from October, which was down 13.0 percent from September. Equivalent decreases for Milwaukee County were 14.4 percent, 12.7 percent, and 5.3 percent.
Part of the decline in AFDC cases is due to moving 3,737 cases into SSI or Kinship Care. (W2 is for people who are able to work.) The Food Stamp case load rose nominally by 27 cases. Milwaukee's share of the statewide Food Stamps is 48.7 percent. The Medical Assistance caseload was lower by 0.4 percent. Milwaukee represents one-third of the total statewide caseload.
AFDC papered over people's problems with a welfare check but did nothing to resolve the difficulties themselves. W-2 was designed to involve the entire community in helping people become self-sufficient and to be flexible enough to encourage new and innovative solutions to local problems.
The Portage County Health and Human Services Department is drawing on the strengths of what may appear, at first blush, to be unlikely welfare reformers.
"Many of the people leaving welfare for work have unreliable transportation," says Lauri Rockman (715/345-5350), Portage County family and employment support manager.
So, Portage County is enlisting auto mechanics to volunteer their expertise to find ways to help W-2 participants having car trouble.
Portage County will also teach W-2 participants in how to shop wisely for a used car, what to look for, and how much to pay. They'll also take the new workers under the hood: how to maintain their autos to keep them running - and their owners on time for work! - how to change the oil, rotate tires, do simple repairs, and recognize warning signs before it's time to call the tow truck.
Rockman says she expects the free W-2 car courses to begin in six weeks.