Md. gets aid for hardest jobless cases 5 other states, Guam get U.S. funds to help unemployed find jobs

August 05, 1998|By Geoffrey C. Upton | Geoffrey C. Upton,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Maryland was among six states yesterday to receive federal grants that are intended to help hard-to-employ welfare recipients enter the work force and hold onto jobs.

President Clinton announced the grants at a White House ceremony that commemorated the second anniversary of his signing of far-reaching legislation to overhaul the nation's welfare system. In the past two years, the number of welfare recipients has fallen 27 percent, to 8.9 million people.

"This is our window of maximum opportunity to make sure every poor person in America stuck on welfare has a chance to be a part of America's future and to share in the American dream," Clinton said.

Maryland's $14.9 million grant was owed to the state under a provision of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, in which Congress allocated $3 billion for grants to state and local welfare-to-work programs.

States are eligible for funds based on the number of residents who receive welfare and are below the poverty line.

Along with Maryland, five other states -- Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Virginia and West Virginia -- and the territory of Guam received grants yesterday. Thirty-eight states have received grants this year under the welfare-to-work program.

Maryland's grant will be matched by a $7.5 million grant from state and local governments and nonprofit agencies. Most of the money will be distributed to cities and counties, where it will support programs that target Marylanders who need the most help finding and keeping jobs. The city of Baltimore will receive by far the largest share -- $14.3 million -- of the combined $22.4 million in federal and matching grants.

The local allocations will support One-Stop employment centers, where welfare recipients and other unemployed workers go for job training and job placement; transportation and housing for welfare-to-work participants; and other services, including child care and substance abuse treatment.

A small portion of the money will be spent by Gov. Parris N. Glendening's office, on programs that create and find jobs for long-term welfare recipients, on community college recruitment and on help for noncustodial fathers.

At yesterday's ceremony, Clinton also announced that he was ordering the Department of Health and Human Services to end a provision that made it difficult for the working poor to receive Medicaid.

The rule barred states from providing Medicaid to adults in two-parent families in which the primary wage-earner worked more than 100 hours a month. Maryland and 31 other states had already received permission to drop the provision. Still, Clinton said his action yesterday, which would permit states to set their own rules for Medicaid coverage of two-parent families, would provide coverage to at least 130,000 more Americans.

"Just think of the message [the old rule] sent," Clinton said. "Instead of rewarding stable families, it actually punished couples that work and work hard to stay together.

"The 100-hour rule was wrong," the president added. "Now, it and every other strand of the old welfare system are history."

Vesta Kimble, deputy director of the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services, introduced Clinton at yesterday's event, as a representative of a local agency committed to welfare-to-work programs. An Anne Arundel job counselor and several Medicaid recipients looked on.

"I think it's a great step toward helping families and offering them the benefits they need in support of employment," Kimble said of the change in Medicaid rules. "It certainly has helped in Maryland."

Pub Date: 8/05/98

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