A state agency has more than doubled the number of welfare recipients leaving public assistance for jobs, Gov. Nikki Haley said Tuesday.
The Department of Social Services helped 12,298 welfare recipients get work between September 2011 and June 2012, a big bump from the 5,060 who moved to jobs during the same period a year earlier.
More than 21,000 children live in the households of welfare recipients who found work in that 10-month span. “(The children now) have examples of hard-working family members who care about getting their families into better prospects,” Social Services director Lillian Koller said.
Koller said her agency was able to get more welfare recipients into jobs without hiring consultants or expanding its staff. The push leaves 6,336 welfare recipients eligible to work still in need of jobs, she said. Recipients who are disabled or caring for relatives or a child under the age of 1 are exempt from having to find work.
Welfare recipients receive benefits for four months after they get work to help with their financial stability and can get help paying for child care for two years, Koller said.
The jobs are split about evenly between full- and part-time work, Social Services officials said. The average pay for the workers is about $9 a hour.
In South Carolina, welfare pays a mother with two children $223 a month.
Employers can reach out to Social Services to find workers, who will send recipients appropriate for the jobs available. Businesses also can get state and federal incentives for hiring welfare recipients and get tax credits for work uniforms, tools, training and transportation, Social Services officials said.
Susan Gibson of Winnsboro Petroleum, which owns 26 convenience stores in the Midlands, said her company is pleased with the reliability of the 30 workers that it has hired through Social Services.
“There are many people on welfare and many people taking food stamps that don’t want to be there,” Haley said. “They want to see themselves do better.”