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Designing and Administering a Wage-Paying Community Service Employment Program Under TANF

Some Considerations and Choices

04/1999
| Kay Sherwood

Wage-based community service employment is a hybrid form of work for public assistance recipients with two essential elements: (1) that the jobholders earn wages and (2) that the work they perform benefits the wider community or society at large in some way.

This paper was inspired by major changes in the structure of the U.S. welfare system, as called for by the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, and the important groundwork of two organizations that have examined the concept of wage-based community service employment. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in Washington, D.C., led by Cliff Johnson, and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), also in Washington, D.C., led by Steve Savner, have produced extensive written material on this welfare-to-work program approach, much of which is summarized in this paper.

The purpose of this paper is to supplement the ideas that have already been developed and to flesh out how wage-based community service employment might work from the perspective of the local agencies participating in the implementation of welfare reform.

For a full copy of this publication, please contact publications@mdrc.org.