How to Improve Erie County’s Work First Program
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The major shift to a welfare to work model happened in 1996 with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. This federal law aimed to decrease dependency on public assistance by – among other things – forcing people to work for their assistance. Erie County did not need this Act to focus on work. Erie County Department of Social Services has been enforcing work requirements and operating as a work first county since 1988. In 1994, the County created its Welfare to Work Leadership Council. The goal of the council is to bring the community together to find jobs and training for employable public assistance applicants. The two defining programs in Erie County are Jobs Club for the applicant and Workfare for the recipient.