Supports For Working Families

The majority of adults who leave welfare are often found to be employed in the months after they disconnect from public assistance. Many “welfare leavers” take advantage of popular social programs such as Medicaid, SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and school breakfast programs. Other programs are not as well utilized or communicated to those attempting to become self-sufficient. The purpose of this article is to focus on a few programs in New Jersey that are not so commonly known.

Transitional Child Care (TCC) provides a subsidy for the twenty-four months following a TANF case closing. Parents should contact their Case Manager so a referral can be sent to the child care agency in their county. Note: even if a case is closed for reasons other than employment, a parent may be eligible for TCC, if current employed.

Supplemental Work Support (SWS) provides a $200 per month benefit for up to two years to a family that voluntarily withdraws from TANF. The application for SWS must be made prior to the case closing due to employment earnings. To qualify a household must meet the following conditions: 1) working twenty hours or more per week for the past four months, 2) have been on cash assistance for at least six months, 3) still receiving a partial grant prior to case closing. The $200 a month benefit does not count against the five year time limit. In fact, it “stops the clock.”

The Career Advancement Voucher Program (CAVP) allows individuals to obtain additional training or education after welfare. Requirements include: maintaining their current employment, have been working for at least the past four months. A person interested in work-related classes may receive a voucher up to $4000. The benefit is only available within the two years after TANF closing date. For a referral, contact a Work First New Jersey Case Manager.

Additional programs and benefits are available to working families. For information on these and other programs – SNAP, LIHEAP, USF, EITC and the “Get A Job, Get A Ride” program – download the attached documents. The Support for Working Families brochure was published in hard-copy earlier this year by the NJ Division of Family Development. The Post-TANF Support Services That You Need to Know About! flyer was produced in partnership with the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

This is the second in a series of articles and documents to be issued pertaining to welfare and workforce development.

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WFNJ Handbook

Twenty years ago “welfare as we know it” was fundamentally changed with the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996. New requirements and responsibilities are now a standard rule, along with the availability of a number of supportive services. Yet, after two decades, information is not be readily disseminated so welfare clients can make informed decisions in their efforts to become self-sufficient.

Every applicant for cash assistance is given a handbook which gives an overview of the program, available support services, as well as information on time limits, income disregards, work activities, deferrals and sanctions.

The handbook also details the many programs that individuals and families may receive both while receiving assistance and for the two year period following case closing. A number of these programs are under-utilized. They include: Supplemental Work Support (SWS), Career Advancement Voucher Program (CAVP), Transitional Child Care (TCC) and transportation services.

Available for downloading is the most current edition of the WFNJ Handbook, (revised April, 2016). Also available is a Spanish version.

This is the first in a series of articles and documents to be issued pertaining to welfare and workforce development.

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Montclair Affordable Housing Nonprofit Seeks Executive Director

A Montclair, New Jersey nonprofit, HOMECorp, is currently conducting a search for a new Executive Director. It is an ecumenical, community-based non-profit organization formed in 1988 by concerned residents and religious institutions to improve and develop permanent affordable housing in Montclair. Their mission is to create and maintain housing that preserves economic diversity and ignites community revitalization while fostering financial empowerment.

Prospective applicants for the position must submit an application by September 30, 2016. See job description and application requirements here.

For further information contact Marion Conway at edsearch@homecorp.org.

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Thank You Juan Cabanela

Every once in a while we need to stop what we are doing and say “thank you” to a fellow human being. This country is filled with men and women who day in and day out are doing remarkable things. The other day – on Labor Day – in fact, it became known to me that a particular website is no more.

For a number of years a website known as Contacting The Congress was operated by a public citizen, Juan Cabanela. While checking for broken links on this site it was discovered that his website had been shut down after twenty-one years of operation. Imagine, a website operating for twenty-one years, providing a very up-to-date citizen’s congressional directory, due to the efforts of one individual. Amazing.

Juan Cabanela was not a politician or a paid political operative seeking to capitalize on his Contacting the Congress website. Instead, he is a faculty member in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Minnesota State University.

Although his site was shutdown last week, he has left us a dozen links to the U.S. Congress, so we won’t feel so lost or abandoned. Thank you, Dr. Juan Cabanela, for your activism and your efforts these past two decades.

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OFA Peer TA Network

For a number of years both the New Jersey Community Resources website and blog has highlighted a number of resources for social work professionals. The purpose of today’s article is to bring to the attention of social workers and county welfare agency personnel and their partners in community agencies a website operated on behalf of the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the Department of Health and Human Services.

To quote from the OFA Peer Technical Assistance Network website: “The goal of Peer TA is to establish linkages among TANF agencies and their partners serving TANF and low-income families at the state, county, local, and tribal level. The Peer TA website acts as a dissemination and communications vehicle, supporting the Peer TA Network in the provision of technical assistance, facilitating a dialogue among organizations serving TANF and low-income families, and helping organizations learn about innovative programs and the latest research around effective strategies to successfully support TANF and low-income families on a path to self-sufficiency.”

Each week OFA Peer TA distributes a newsletter to its subscribers, informing them of new developments, programs, position papers, etc. on a wide variety of subjects. If you wish to subscribe, visit their newsletter sign up page. You will find it useful to stay up-to-date with federal programs and policies or if a social work student doing research.

Below is a sampling of just a few articles appearing in their newsletter or website within the past few months. They include:

OFA Peer TA often hosts webinars on a number of topics. Announcements of future webinars and webcasts appear in their email distributions.

For readers interested in New Jersey welfare statistics, the Division of Family Development still maintains a monthly report titled DFD Current Program Statistics, previously mentioned in a 2010 blog article.

For further information, please email Michael Swayze at michael.swayze@njcommunityresources.info.

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Expungement Information Session

City of Elizabeth Hosts Expungement Information Session – August 11

The City of Elizabeth will host an Expungement Information Session on Thursday, August 11 from 6pm to 8pm at the Elizabeth Public Library, 11 South Broad Street. The purpose of the meeting is to explain changes to the expungement of criminal records, based on legislation that took effect in April, 2016, following a two-year effort.

Advocates and attorneys representing such groups as Legal Services of New Jersey, Community Health Law Project and Make the Road New Jersey will be present to answer questions.

The information session coincides with the recent launching of a Facebook page,
City of Elizabeth Reentry Program. The site already provides a number of links on the expungement process. Persons interested in volunteering to assist at the meeting – greeters, registration – may call Deshawn Pierce at 908-820-4052.

Related links on expungement include:

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Tech Tips: Five Ways To Sidestep Cybercriminals

Password management is an area where just about everyone has room for improvement. Here’s a list of five straightforward ways to make sure your passwords and online accounts stay out of the hands of cybercriminals.

1. Find out if you’ve already been hacked
There’s always a chance that your account information is already in the hands of cybercriminals. Fortunately, there are some tools available that can help you identify and change the passwords on any accounts that have been compromised. For example, the website “Have I Been Pwned” lets you enter your email address and find out if any of your account credentials have shown up in hacker circles. You can search a list of companies that have suffered data breaches at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. You can also consult the “List of Data Breaches” on Wikipedia, which is searchable using your web browser’s “Find” or “Search” function. Above all, be a bit suspicious and trust your instincts. If you have reason to believe a password might have been exposed, change it.

2. Use strong passwords
It’s important to use complex passwords that will be difficult for hackers to guess. Just remember that adjacent sets of adjacent letters and numbers on your keyboard – like “qwerty” or “123456” – are not complex passwords. The best passwords typically include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. If using complex passwords seems like too much of a pain, consider a password management tool like DashLane or LastPass. These tools help users create, store and manage complex passwords.

3. Don’t let the bad guys get your passwords
This might seem obvious, but you might be amazed at how many people keep their passwords posted in places where others can read them. You should never share your passwords and always store them in a secure location away from prying eyes. Also, don’t keep your passwords – or any sensitive information for that matter – listed in a computer file that is easily accessed without a password. Any password lists on your computer should be password protected and encrypted.

4. Use secure communications
Never send a password over email. If you want to create an account on website, make sure that the URL of that website begins with ‘https’ because the ‘s’ at the end indicates advanced security measures. Websites that begin with “http” are not as secure. Additionally, do not use public computers or public Wi-Fi to log into online banking and other sensitive accounts.

5. Choose difficult security questions
When registering an account online, you’ll often be asked to choose security questions and answers. These are used to verify your identity if you lose your password or if a security breach of some kind is suspected. The key here is to choose questions that are hard to figure out. Remember, just about anyone can find your mother’s maiden name if they really want to. Avoid using information that someone can easily look up online. For example, you wouldn’t want to rely on information that can be seen easily on a social media profile to inform your password choice – such as name of spouse, hometown, employer.

Hopefully you have found this article helpful and you’ll take a few steps to make your own password use more secure starting today.

Source: The above article is written by Carbonite , a company providing automatic cloud backup for your computer files. If you’re a Carbonite Partner or a small business, I hope you’ll share these tips your co-workers, employees and clients. And if you’re a consumer using a Carbonite Personal Plan, be sure to share these tips with friends and loved ones.

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