To fit in with the latest federal requirements set by Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Oregon needs to change its existing Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program significantly. Oregon could lose up to $14 million annually if it fails to connect half of the TANF recipients to work-related activities.
The Legislative Assembly is currently considering two bills, HB 2180 and 2469 to restructure the state welfare program. Both include provisions to improve the assessment process of needy adults to identify the barriers to employment. They also incorporate a program that provides income supplements to post-welfare workers.
It is difficult to improve their employment conditions because of their low education and skill status. If these families and individuals are to ultimately move out of the system, they should be engaged in activities that allow them to earn the ‘supplemental’ income themselves.
One way of doing this would be to encourage self-employment activities through which they could trade their labor or services directly to clients. Programs should be designed by the state and non-profits that would help them network with clients and obtain other resources like credit and insurance to start small businesses.
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