DSHS to end protective payee services for WorkFirst families

Sixty-nine contractors who manage cash assistance grants for low-income families who refuse to prepare for or seek work in the state’s welfare-to-work program are being notified their services won’t be needed after June 1. The move is part of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s plan to strengthen WorkFirst, the state’s welfare-to-work program. The 69 contractors are known as “protective payees.” They provide money management services to ensure assistance funds, which support WorkFirst clients, are being spent for housing, utilities and other life necessities.

Under the governor’s new policy, WorkFirst grants will end when employable parents fail or refuse for six months to prepare for and seek work. In addition, Child Safety Net payments will end for non-compliant parents who have been on cash assistance over 60 months. Currently, assistance grants are cut by 40 percent for these families and protective payees are used to ensure the remaining funds are used to address the family’s basic needs.

There are currently 5,005 families who have been assigned a protective payee because a parent refused the considerable support the program offers to help them enter the workforce. Protective payees can be individuals, companies – both for profit and non-profit – and faith and community-based organizations. They receive a monthly fee of $40 for assisting sanctioned families and $50 for helping families receiving a Child Safety Net payment. Protective payees will continue to be paid after June to help WorkFirst clients who cannot manage their funds and support minors who are pregnant or are parents.