Progress, Roadblocks Cited in JOBS Implementation
WASHINGTON---States have made "significant progress" in setting up education, job-training, and childcare services required under the 1988 welfare-reform law, but they "are experiencing difficulties that could reduce the program's potential" to stem long-term welfare dependency, according the General Accounting Office.
As of October 1990, all states had launched Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training programs as required under the federal Family Support Act, and 31 were implementing their jobs programs statewide two years ahead of the law's deadline, the G.A.O. reported in a study released last month.
The Congressional watchdog agency also found that most states are "moving in new directions indicated by the Congress," such as emphasizing education and skills training, providing child-care assistance, and targeting services to teenage parents and long-term welfare recipients.
But the report also said that many states are experiencing shortages of services needed to fully carry out their programs. More than half cited or expected shortages of alternative high schools, as well as basic- or remedial-education programs; 39 reported insufficient transportation, particularly in rural areas; and 36 said shortages in infant care have made it difficult to serve teenage parents.
The report also noted that states' progress in moving welfare clients into jobs "may be slowed by poor economic conditions."
Another problem, the study found, is that states are not contributing enough of their own dollars to draw all the federal matching funds to which they are entitled. The report said that $372 million, or about 38 percent, of federal jobs funds available to states were expected to go unused in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
It added that many states are facing fiscal problems that could bring deeper cuts in JOBS spending, meaning "fewer participants will be served or fewer dollars will be spent on each participant."--D.C.
Vol. 11, Issue 07, Page 21