Chapter 4.7: Other Components
Transportation initiatives must also consider access to destinations other than work sites. Access to child care, job training, and education is crucial for transit-dependent households, particularly those participating in benefit programs.
Job Training and Educational Sites
Federal welfare reform requires that those who receive assistance must work. States must meet work participation rates for "all families" who receive cash grants and who are non-exempt from work requirements. The term "all families" refers to all families headed by an adult (one or two-parent families) or a minor parent head of household receiving cash assistance under a state welfare program.
Work is generally considered by the federal legislation to be full-time unsubsidized employment. The national legislation, however, allows additional activities to temporarily qualify as work. For the first 20 hours of work for all families (first 30 hours for two-parent families)4:
- Subsidized private and public sector employment
- Work experience
- On-the-job training
- Job search and job readiness assistance
- Community service programs
- Vocational education
- Job-skills training directly related to employment
- Remedial education (e.g., high school diploma) directly related to employment
- Provision of child care assistance to an individual who is participating in community service
Hours in excess of the required 20 hours of work for all families (and 30 hours for two-parent families) may be counted when an individual participates in:
- Job search and job readiness assistance
- Job skills training directly related to employment
- Education directly related to employment in the case of a participant who has not received a high school diploma or high school equivalency
- Satisfactory attendance at secondary school, or in a course of study leading to a certificate of general equivalency.
Planning for access to job-training and educational facilities requires a thorough understanding of the welfare reform requirements in each state. Individual state requirements can, for instance, affect access planning in the following ways:
Centralized facility or multiple facilities - Some states have created or designated centralized job training facilities for an entire county. Other states have taken a more decentralized approach, where training at different sites or different educational facilities qualifies as job training. Locations of approved facilities should be available from the state agency administering the welfare programs.
Breadth, frequency and duration of allowable training - Some states allow TANF participants to engage in the full range of educational opportunities allowed under the federal law. Other states have chosen to restrict job-training or educational substitution for work. As the limitation on substituting education or training for employment becomes tighter, planning for job access becomes more difficult. For instance, job access for a group of full-time students is less difficult than for a part-time student who must also have access to a part-time job. The length of time allowed to substitute job training or education for work similarly affects access planning. If an individual will only attend training for a few months, the access-to-jobs program must be flexible enough to address the shift from training sites and class schedules to work sites and work schedules.
Lack of childcare options is often cited as a primary reason for low-income parents to be unemployed or underemployed. Transportation initiatives must consider not only linking job seekers to employers, but also assisting the job seekers in obtaining reasonable transportation to and from childcare facilities. Addressing childcare transportation issues simultaneously with job access transportation is an ongoing challenge for planners.
Most states have a childcare component in their welfare to work program. At a minimum, these programs subsidize childcare. Many states have separated childcare subsidies from TANF participation, providing child care subsidies beyond the cut off from financial assistance under a means-tested program. Listed below are the states that provide childcare after TANF transitional assistance: Transitional Child Care Available Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming: No limit for families below 200 percent of federal poverty level.
- Connecticut: No limit for families below 200 percent of federal poverty level; sliding-scale fee.
- Hawaii: No limit; sliding scale fee.
- Illinois: No limit for families below 200 percent of federal poverty level; Co-pay for all with earned income.
- Maine: Until youngest is 13 or family loses eligibility.
- Montana: Sliding-scale fee immediately.
- New Hampshire: No limit for families below 170 percent of federal poverty level.
- Wisconsin: No limit for families below 165 percent of federal poverty level; sliding fee co-payment; eligibility is not eliminated if families move above 165% threshold but remain below 200% of federal poverty level.
Access to subsidized childcare is a crucial element of job access even for households not participating in welfare programs. Planners must be aware of the geographic and temporal access implications of childcare. Childcare hours may not coincide with commuting peaks, and employers may not be accessible on the same route or by the same transportation mode.
Non-transportation solutions, such as co-locating childcare with transit centers, public schools or employment hubs from a transportation perspective should be considered; however, other considerations such as the availability of acceptable space, location of the facilities and the cost may be more influential factors.
4The specifics of the federal work goals and the circumstances in which other activities can qualify as work under the TANF block grant program is described in more detail in the appendix on Welfare Reform.