States to Split $1 Billion to Help Problem Cases Escape Welfare: Private Groups to Handle Grants for Those Hard to Employ

Article excerpt

More than $1 billion soon will be available for states to help their most troubled welfare recipients find and keep jobs, the Clinton administration announced yesterday.

"These funds represent a dramatic commitment to help break the cycle of poverty in all 50 states," Vice President Al Gore said at a White House ceremony for the new $3 billion Welfare-to-Work grant program.

"We've got to show every single welfare recipient that we're not simply going to legislate them into the work force. We're going to reach out to them and mentor them and help them learn the profound responsibilities of work and independence," Mr. Gore said.

States must submit plans now on how they will spend the grants, said a spokesman for the Department of Labor, which will oversee the program.

The grants could be distributed around January, he said.

Virginia's grant is estimated at $16.7 million, Maryland's is $15.1 million and the District's is $4.5 million.

The Welfare-to-Work grants were added to this year's budget agreement at the behest of President Clinton, who had promised to "fix" the welfare law.

The grants are authorized at $1.5 billion a year for fiscal 1998 and 1999. About $1.1 billion in grants will be distributed to states based on the size of their poverty and welfare populations; states must put up $1 for every $2 they receive.

Another $400 million soon will be available for competitive bids from local community groups. …