A recent letter suggested that rather than utilizing inmates to help with the apple harvest, the work could be performed by those who receive welfare from the state.
It is worth noting that there have only been two public assistance programs which provide cash assistance. General Assistance Unemployable, now called Disability Lifeline, is for single adults who are incapacitated and cannot work. The cash-assistance portion of that program, which was $197 per month, was terminated on Nov. 1.
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) provides a cash benefit to parents with children whose income is no more than 30 percent of the federal poverty level. The majority of these families are single women with two children.
A family of three currently receives $477 per month. There are proposals to reduce that amount by 5 percent.
Under TANF/Workfirst, the parents are required to spend 35 hours per week at a job or participating in documented activities like earning a GED or getting training that will lead to a job. If the parent does not participate, the family loses its benefit.
Federal law requires the state to provide child care while these parents are at work or receiving education or training.
The purpose of the TANF/Workfirst program is to assist families onto the path to self-sufficiency. Requiring these parents to spend a few weeks picking apples will not get them there.
(Regala is a state senator representing the 27th Legislative District.)