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A Piece of the Puzzle: How States Can Use Education to Make Work Pay for Welfare Recipients

As little as one semester of full-time training can result in a salary increase of as much as $10,000 for a former welfare-recipient, says the first report of the Educational Testing Service Leadership 2000 Series: Conversations. Nevertheless, according to the study, fewer than one-tenth of welfare recipients who met the TANF work requirements in fiscal year 1998 received any formal education to do so. Consequently, people may be leaving welfare, but they are not leaving poverty. This has been made evident by 1999 studies (sited in the ETS report) by the Urban Institute, the U.S. General Accounting Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Using empirical and anecdotal evidence, ETS develops a plan of 12 lessons for states to follow in order to enable welfare recipients and former welfare recipients to lift themselves out of poverty. Among the lessons: use education to meet federal work requirements; use financial aid programs; use state funds to extend education beyond one year; develop partnerships between community colleges and welfare offices; use standardized tests to determine training placement.

ETS is a private nonprofit company that administers more than 11 million tests worldwide on behalf of clients in education, government and business. 84 pages. Free. ETS Communication Services, Rosedale Rd., Mail Stop 50-B, Princeton, NJ 08541. (609) 734-1200.

– Amy Bracken

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