As a result of federal and state welfare reform legislation, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) customers are required to actively search for work, show proof of their job search efforts and accept a job when it is offered or participate in work activity assignment. The WCDSS offers a variety of assistance programs to help customers achieve self-sufficiency.
The Office of Employment Operations coordinates employment services for public assistance customers through the local Service Centers in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, White Plains and Peekskill. As a Work First county, Westchester's goal is to empower its customers to achieve lasting self-sufficiency through employment.
The WCDSS partners with a number of agencies to assist TANF customers to find full-time employment. Pre-employment services include skills assessment, resume preparation, interview techniques, employer and employee expectations, coping skills, conflict resolution and job placement. Post-employment retention services are designed to ensure that employment is maintained even when problems or crises arise.
The Welfare Reform Act of 1997 mandates that TANF applicants and recipients be screened for alcohol or substance abuse problems. Identifying and assessing clients with these and mental health problems are the first steps in dealing with potential barriers to employment. Staff are trained on substance abuse and mental health issues and the use of appropriate screening instruments. Substance abuse and mental health professionals are also present to help customers overcome these obstacles.
Partner agencies and DSS managers play a pivotal role in the job placement and job retention of their customers. These professionals assist customers with post-employment support services to ensure job retention and eventual independence.
Other programs and services available during the transition from public assistance to employment include:
- Child Health Plus Health Insurance
- Transportation - Using guidelines issued by the Federal Transit Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Labor on the use of TANF and Welfare-to-Work funds for transportation needs, the WCDSS is addressing transportation needs utilizing alternative methods. For information regarding current transit links in the county, view the Westchester County Department of Transportation Web site.
- Transitional Day Care
- Transitional Medical Assistance
- Earned Income Tax Credit - Workers who qualify for the EITC and file a federal tax return can receive a refund of some or all of their federal income tax. Eligible families receive the full amount of the credit even if it is greater than the amount of taxes owed. Qualifying families with no tax liability receive the entire credit as a refund.