CWEP's Implementation Results to Date Raise Questions About the Administration's Proposed Mandatory Workfare Program

PEMD-84-2: Published: Apr 2, 1984. Publicly Released: Apr 2, 1984.

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GAO examined the implementation of the Community Work Experience Programs (CWEP) under the Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) program in 16 states.

GAO found that the states' programs do not address the typical goals of workfare. For example, in the 13 states where CWEP has been implemented, participants are not required to work off the value of their AFDC grants at unpaid jobs. The various state programs substitute job-search or classroom-training activities for some CWEP hours, provide compensation which exceeds work expenses, or mandate fewer hours per month or fewer months than would be required to work off an entire grant. Most employable adult AFDC recipients are not participating in CWEP, chiefly because only four programs are state-wide and many adults are either exempt or not required to participate. One of the administration's primary reasons for proposing CWEP as a workfare program was to save money, yet state officials provided little evidence to show that implementation of CWEP has changed the net costs of AFDC. However, most state officials stated that CWEP provides a service to the community, helps the participants psychologically and gives them work skills, and increases public confidence in the fairness of the welfare system. The administration has proposed legislative changes which would require that CWEP be implemented more like a workfare program, such as requiring all states to implement comprehensive work programs and penalizing states for not employing at least 75 percent of their welfare recipients in such programs. GAO believes that enactment of these changes would increase the short-term costs of CWEP, but that long-term savings might more than offset the initial increases.

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