Program provides resources for parents impacted by new welfare laws

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed nine bills into law that aim at reforming the state’s welfare system. The newly signed laws are part of Walker’s ‘Wisconsin Works for Everyone’ welfare reform plan that he first announced in La Crosse in January.

Under the new laws, adults with children who take part in the FoodShare program will now have to meet workforce requirements under two of the laws. The first law would set the number of required hours spent in workforce training for able-bodied adults who are receiving food stamps and have school-aged children.

“What we’re doing is getting people the skills and the education they need to not just have jobs but to have careers to support themselves and their families,” said Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisconsin.

Adults with children under six or enrolled in school at least part-time would be exempt from a work requirement or career training courses under the second law.

“It’s really about how do we help people go from government dependence into true independence through the dignity that’s born of work,” Walker said.

Workforce Connections is the sole provider in Western Wisconsin for the FoodShare Employment and Training Program, which will be mandated for parents who do not meet work hour minimums. They connect people seeking those services with community partners to meet the requirements.

“We’re kind of the coordinator within that system to help them stay on track for their education, as well as help them with their employment needs,” said Gina Brown, W2 and FSET program manager for Workforce Connections.

Brown said that some people may just need to increase the number of hours they’re working.

“For other people, it might be an education path, and that might be a short-term training certificate, it might be a longer-term certificate. It might even be some level of a longer-term training that they’re looking for more of a degree,” Brown said.

Either way, she does anticipate more people with families needing help to pick a new path.

“With the changes in legislation, we anticipate we will see more people to be able to come through and take advantage of those services that are available,” Brown said.

More information on the legislation can be found here.