New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is proposing a full employment program for government-funded social-service workers. In the process, he will likely gut one of the most successful welfare-to-work initiatives in the country, and possibly return New York to its former status of America’s dependency capital, when one in seven New Yorkers were on the dole. The city’s gargantuan welfare agency, the Human Resources Administration, has just issued its “new vision for employment and education services.” Welfare users will no longer be expected to immediately look for and take a job in exchange for taxpayer support, an expectation that was the key breakthrough of welfare reform. Instead, welfare recipients will serve indefinitely as receptacles for an endless array of taxpayer-supported services.
Welfare applicants and recipients entering this complex new world of services will go through a three-tier assessment process. Those recipients deemed “fully employable” by HRA will get . . . not a job, but more services! They will be referred to off-site “contractor locations,” where the contractors will provide “in-depth assessments and direct clients to the proper set of services that are tailored to individualized strengths, interests, and needs.”
Does the “fully employable”welfare recipient now start looking for, or working in, a job? Not necessarily. According to HRA’s planners, “Individuals may then be referred to a combination of services,” which might include CareerBridge, a “new set of HRA contracted services for contextualized adult basic education, high school equivalency preparation, bridge training, English as a Second Language, and vocational training”; and CareerAdvance, “for clients who are job-ready, have high levels of skills/education, and/or others whose personal goals are immediate employment will be referred to CareerAdvance contractors to receive services.”
In a word, services.