Department of Labor
Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

Welfare Reform: Assessing Education and Training Needs of TANF Recipients

Public assistance services in New York State are provided by 58 local social services districts, which are overseen by the Department of Labor (Department) and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). Work activities are overseen by the Department, while eligibility determinations and other activities are overseen by OTDA.

As part of the process of placing recipients in work activities, districts are required to assess skills, work experience and employability of recipients. We found that employability assessments were not completed by the districts for many of the recipients in our sample, and many of the assessments that were completed were not done in a timely manner or did not include an assessment of such critical skills as the recipient's literacy. We also found indications that recipients' skills and prior experiences are not adequately taken into account during job placements, and significant barriers to employment may not be identified and addressed through education and training. As a result, even if recipients are initially able to be placed in jobs, they may be less likely to maintain economic self-sufficiency and more likely to remain on or return to public assistance. We also identified a number of instances in which districts did not document why recipients were exempted from work activities and did not document that they had monitored temporary exemptions to determine when the recipients could begin participating in work activities. The Department needs to evaluate the extent to which the districts match recipients' skills and abilities to work activities that will maximize their opportunity to achieve long-term self-sufficiency.

For a complete copy of Report 99-J-1 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.
For a copy of the associated follow-up report click here.