NC counties told to hold Work First applications - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

NC counties told to hold Work First applications

Posted: Updated:
RALEIGH, N.C. -

North Carolina's government suspended a welfare program for the unemployed and underemployed Monday because there was no guarantee the federal government would reimburse the state for benefits until the partial shutdown in Washington ends.

The state Department of Health and Human Services directed county social service offices to no longer process or approve Work First applications they receive. The department also suspended the renewal of current Work First participants.

October cash payments have already been transmitted to people eligible for Work First, department spokeswoman Julie Henry said, so people would only miss benefits if the shutdown extends into November. More than 20,700 people received Work First services in September, including $4.8 million in payments, Henry said.

North Carolina may be the only state in the country that has currently stopped processing applications, according to an expert that monitors welfare programs nationwide.

"It just means people will have to wait longer for benefits," said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a senior policy analyst for CLASP, a Washington-based group advocating for policies to help the poor. She said her group wasn't aware of any other state deciding to stop processing applications.

Block-grant funds to the states to operate their welfare programs weren't authorized after Sept. 30, and Congress failed to agree on legislation to extend government spending into the new federal fiscal year, prompting the shutdown.

North Carolina and other states received letters saying they could choose to spend state funds in the meantime and hope Congress would reimburse when the block funding through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families was restored. But the letter's language was too tentative for DHHS officials in Raleigh to justify spending state funds, according to Henry.

"It was just not a concrete enough assurance," Henry said. The state decided to use their leftover TANF funds to continue child welfare and protective service programs, she said. If the shutdown ends later in the month, applications will be processed toward getting applicants their benefits on time, she said.

Lower-Basch said government officials in a few other states have said they aren't going to pay benefits in November, but are continuing to process the applications. Arizona stopped making TANF cash assistance checks to low-income families in early October after federal funds dried up, but resumed the check-writing when it located other funds to use through the end of the month.

Lower-Basch said she couldn't imagine Congress refusing to pass a TANF reauthorization bill without reimbursing states that kept paying benefits to welfare recipients during the shutdown. "We all hope this gets resolved real soon," she said.

Families who qualify for Work First receive one-time cash benefits of up to three months. Parents who register with an employment assistance program and sign an agreement can keep receiving benefits for up to 24 months if they keep working, get training or perform community service.

Last week, DHHS said it was halting its supplemental food voucher program for poor women and their young children due to the shutdown. But the agency announced two days later the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children program would resume issuing benefits the next day because officials had located money to operate it through October. At the time, North Carolina was the only state to halt its WIC program, which helps 264,000 women and children monthly.

  • Franklin County accident causes lane closures on Brooks Mill Road

    Franklin County accident causes lane closures on Brooks Mill Road

    Franklin County accident causes lane closures on Brooks Mill Road

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 5:16 AM EDT2014-07-30 09:16:44 GMT
    FRANKLIN COUNTY (WSLS) - State Police are on the scene of an accident on Brooks Mill Road (Rt. 834) near the Ponderosa campground.
    FRANKLIN COUNTY (WSLS) - State Police are on the scene of an accident on Brooks Mill Road (Rt. 834) near the Ponderosa campground.
  • Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:41 AM EDT2014-07-30 04:41:44 GMT
    ROANOKE (WSLS) - A man wanted for sex crimes against a minor was captured in Roanoke during a traffic stop.
    ROANOKE (WSLS) - A man wanted for sex crimes against a minor was captured in Roanoke during a traffic stop.
  • Roanoke Police investigate shots fired incident

    Roanoke Police investigate shots fired incident

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:37 PM EDT2014-07-30 02:37:03 GMT
    On July 29, 2014 at 6:08 p.m. Roanoke Police were dispatched to the 1200 block of Orange Avenue NE to investigate a shots fired call. Immediately upon arrival officers detained several subjects believed to have been involved in the incident. The preliminary investigation suggests the individuals involved were traveling in two different vehicles on Hollins Road when at least one of the occupants in one of the vehicles starting shooting at the other vehicle. The vehicles separated briefly and t...
    On July 29, 2014 at 6:08 p.m. Roanoke Police were dispatched to the 1200 block of Orange Avenue NE to investigate a shots fired call. Immediately upon arrival officers detained several subjects believed to have been involved in the incident. The preliminary investigation suggests the individuals involved were traveling in two different vehicles on Hollins Road when at least one of the occupants in one of the vehicles starting shooting at the other vehicle. The vehicles separated briefly and t...
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.