NYS Seal




HEARING #2: The Effect of Welfare Reform Policy in New York State


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

Albany, NY

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
10:30 A.M.
Roosevelt Hearing Room C
Legislative Office Building

This is the second hearing being held as part of the Assembly Social Services Committee’s project to evaluate the impact of welfare reform policy in New York State. The first hearing, held in New York City on July 7, 2005, convened a wide variety of representatives from organizations having experience with federal, state and local welfare policies including non-profit social services agencies, legal advocacy groups, and educational institutions.

While some testimony presented at the initial hearing highlighted the success of welfare reform in terms of reducing public assistance caseloads and emphasized the importance of a work-first approach, the majority of testimony that was submitted focused on the problems that remain for those still working hard to permanently rise above poverty. Topics addressed included barriers to self-sufficiency that remain for many. Those barriers included the presence of a severe physical or mental disability, substance abuse problems, and domestic violence issues. The negative impact of sanction policies and practices was also identified as contributing to the financial struggles faced by families in receipt of public assistance. A number of other hardships were also addressed such as: obtaining affordable housing, transportation, and child care; maintaining sustainable wage employment; and dealing with either temporary or long-term homelessness.

In addition to the struggles faced by current and former public assistance recipients, witnesses at the first hearing also discussed some societal trends pertaining to the rise in the number of children born into poor families and the relative decline in the value of low-wage employment. Furthermore, several witnesses emphasized research that noted the increasing importance of higher education for those seeking jobs that pay a living wage, as they provided evidence of the improved economic stability outcomes for those completing college while receiving public assistance.

Given the remaining discrepancy between various organizations’ research findings in assessing the success of welfare reform, the Committee seeks to gather further evidence containing the essential facts related to the impact of welfare reform policy in New York State. Both in preparation for any state level changes that may be needed to implement federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization, and to enable the Social Services Committee to complete a comprehensive evaluation, this hearing will provide a second forum for the presentation of testimony related to the impact of welfare reform policies on New York’s citizens in need. The key group of outcome measures selected for the first hearing has been modified to elicit testimony addressing specific topics about which the Committee would like additional information.

Please see below for a list of subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony.

Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committee at the above hearing should complete and return the reply form found below 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 10 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 identifiable relationship between overall poverty rates throughout the State and the impact of welfare reform policies? Are there any specific policies that either restrict or expand opportunities for low-income families to rise above 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 demonstrating how to most accurately calculate the Self-Sufficiency Standard?

    • 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 public benefits? How does the application process either facilitate or inhibit the opportunity to obtain benefits to which individuals are entitled? 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 particularly families that have reached their 5-year TANF time limit and have transitioned to Safety Net Assistance? What is the long-term impact of educational attainment in terms of job opportunities and overall economic stability?

    • What percentage of welfare applicants and recipients indicate that they have 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 or receiving necessary specialized services? How are public assistance households impacted by the presence of a family member who is an SSI recipient?

    • 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?

    • How does the ability to obtain and maintain affordable housing affect households currently and previously receiving public assistance? How does the availability of affordable housing affect trends in homelessness and public assistance caseloads?

  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 The Effect Of 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 Analyst
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 September 21, 2005.

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


I will address my remarks to the following subjects:

box I do not plan to attend the above hearing.

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