NYS Seal




The Effect of Welfare Reform Policy in New York State


To gather evidence to evaluate the impact of federal and state welfare reform policies on low-income individuals and families across the State.

New York City

Thursday, July 7, 2005
10:30 A.M.
Assembly Hearing Room
250 Broadway
Room 1923, 19th Floor

This is the first hearing being held as part of a new project the Social Services Committee has initiated to evaluate the impact of welfare reform in New York State. The purpose of this project is to assess the effects that the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, which established the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, and the subsequently enacted state welfare reform legislation have had on New York's needy citizens and low-income families.

Many reports have emphasized the success of welfare reform policies in reducing welfare caseloads. According to Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) statistics, New York's public assistance caseload dropped dramatically from approximately 1.6 million in 1995 to just over 300,000 in 2005. Other studies have indicated, however, that the State's welfare reform policies have led to increases in family homelessness and food insecurity, as evidenced by the more recent rise in demand for shelter and emergency food assistance. Given these discrepancies in assessing welfare reform's effectiveness, it is essential that the Legislature reexamine the existing evidence in order to understand the actual impact of welfare reform.

Since PRWORA initially expired in 2002, New York has been anticipating full federal TANF reauthorization while Congress has enacted a series of short-term extensions of the existing law. Currently, both U.S. House and Senate TANF reauthorization proposals contain significant increases in mandatory work participation rates, among other provisions aimed at intensifying the focus on work and the temporary nature of assistance. In preparation for these federal changes, the State also needs to gather evidence in relation to policies that have proven effective in assisting individuals overcome barriers to successfully make the transition to self-sufficiency through employment.

At this hearing, the Committee seeks to elicit testimony that contains the key facts and information needed to form the basis of an evaluation of the impact of welfare reform in New York State. This evaluation will better position the Committee to address state level changes in the wake of federal reauthorization. With the collaboration of several researchers and advocates having expertise on a variety of issues related to welfare reform policies, the Committee has selected a specific group of outcome measures and related issues to which witnesses should direct their testimony.

Please see the reverse side for a list of subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony, and for a description of the bills which will be discussed at the hearing.

Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committee at the above hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.

Oral testimony will be limited to 15 minutes' duration. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committee will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to Committee staff as early as possible. In the absence of a request, witnesses will be scheduled in the order in which reply forms are postmarked.

Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committee would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.

In order to further publicize these hearings, please inform interested parties and organizations of the Committee's interest in hearing testimony from all sources.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.

Deborah J. Glick

Member of Assembly
Committee on Social Services


  1. Economic Stability of Welfare Recipients and Recent Welfare Leavers

    • What administrative data exists to demonstrate earnings levels and employment stability of welfare recipients and recent welfare leavers?

    • What percentage of individuals leaving welfare currently earn enough to put their household income above the federal poverty level (FPL)? How does this figure compare with statewide statistics of working families living below the FPL?

    • Is there any discrepancy between earnings of welfare recipients/recent leavers and the actual cost of living ("self-sufficiency standard") in various localities?

    • What evidence exists to demonstrate the level of access to and receipt of transitional benefits such as child care, Medicaid, Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus, Food Stamps, and unemployment insurance by individuals who no longer receive public assistance? Is there any evidence of administrative barriers or county variation affecting the distribution of these benefits? How does the availability of these benefits affect overall economic stability?

    • How many single parents in New York State are not working and not receiving welfare? Is there any data demonstrating how this population is meeting its basic needs?

  2. Barriers to Employment and Self-Sufficiency

    • How does access to basic education, literacy/ESL classes, and post-secondary college education affect employment outcomes for both current and former welfare recipients? What do statistics show in regard to education levels of these individuals, in particular, families that have reached their 5-year TANF time limit and have transitioned to Safety Net Assistance?

    • What percentage of welfare applicants and recipients indicate having a disability? Of those, what percentage are validated by the local social services district? What assistance do these individuals receive in obtaining federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?

    • What evidence exists to demonstrate the availability of additional services and benefits for disabled recipients and recent welfare leavers? How does the presence of a physical disability, mental illness or drug/alcohol addiction affect an individual's ability to achieve self-sufficiency?

    • What percentage of welfare applicants and recipients indicate having domestic violence issues? Of those, what percentage are validated by the local social services district? Is there any evidence of county-to-county differences in access to domestic violence services or in granting waivers available under the Family Violence Option?

  3. Impact of Sanctions

    • How many and what percentage of public assistance households are currently in sanction status? What is the impact of a sanction on families in terms of financial difficulties and ability to obtain employment?

    • Is there any evidence of variations in imposing sanctions between certain counties or regions throughout the State, particularly in terms of access to screening, engagement, and other specialized services to help sanctioned households come into compliance with work rules?

    • Have any studies demonstrated a correlation between incidences of sanction and significant barriers to employment, such as lower levels of education, higher levels of disability, domestic violence, or substance abuse issues?

  4. Hardship Indicators

    • What evidence exists regarding the extent to which welfare recipients and recent welfare leavers face emergencies such as threat of eviction or foreclosure, loss of utility services, hunger and food insecurity that substantially disrupt the financial security and well-being of household members?

    • How does homelessness affect individuals and families in receipt of public assistance? Specifically, what, if any, recent trends are noticeable in terms of the demand for shelter, average length of stay in shelters, unmet need, and difficulties faced by homeless individuals in complying with work requirements?

  5. Well-Being of Children and Families

    • What impact have welfare reform policies had on households with children, specifically in terms of child well-being as measured by educational achievement and stability, physical and psychological health, and living conditions at home?

    • What percentage of all public assistance cases consist of child-only cases? What information is currently distributed by local social services districts to inform eligible households, including caretaker relatives, SSI recipient and immigrant parents, of the availability of a child-only public assistance grant?


Persons wishing to present testimony at the public hearing on Welfare Reform Policy In New York State are requested to complete this reply form as soon as possible and mail it to:

Jill Poklemba
Legislative Associate
Assembly Committee on Social Services
Room 522 - Capitol
Albany, New York 12248
Email: poklemj@assembly.state.ny.us
Phone: (518) 455-4371
Fax: (518) 455-4693

box I plan to attend the following public hearing on Welfare Reform Policy In New York State to be conducted by the Assembly Committee on Social Services on July 7, 2005.

box I plan to make a public statement at the hearing. My statement will be limited to 15 minutes, and I will answer any questions which may arise. I will provide 10 copies of my prepared statement.

box I will address my remarks to the following subjects:

box I do not plan to attend the above hearing.

box I would like to be added to the Committee mailing list for notices and reports.

box I would like to be removed from the Committee mailing list.


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