Washington’s WorkFirst Welfare-to-Work Program Earns $10.6 Million Federal Bonus

“Washington’s WorkFirst program has earned a $10.6 million performance bonus award from the federal government by showing top-ranked improvements in placing welfare recipients into jobs and helping them to succeed once employed.Washington ranked first among competing states in the category of improving job placement. Washington tied with New York for second place in the category of improving job success, which is measured by people remaining employed and increasing their earnings.“Our focus on moving welfare recipients into the work force and assisting them to move up the wage ladder has really paid off,” said Governor Gary Locke. “Not only has it brought these additional resources into our state to invest in our welfare reform effort, but those who really benefit are parents who are going to work, supporting their families and have new hope for a better life.”President Bill Clinton announced this past weekend that 27 states would share $200 million in bonus awards, authorized by the 1996 federal welfare reform legislation. Forty-six states competed for the awards.The top 10 states in each of four categories received bonuses. Eleven states, including Washington, earned bonus awards in two categories.In the other two categories, Washington ranked 11th for overall 19989 performance in job entries and 12th for performance in job success. The state earned its bonus award for showing the most improved performance in job entries and job success between fiscal years 1997 and 1998.Washington’s $10.6 million bonus award must be used toward the state’s welfare reform effort, and will be invested in assisting current and former welfare recipients and other low-wage workers in becoming self sufficient.WorkFirst in Washington is jointly administered by four state agencies: the Department of Social and Health Services, the Employment Security Department, the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development and the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.”