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Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means, today announced that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Improving the Safety Net: Better Coordinating Today’s Maze of Programs to Ensure Families Receive Real Help.” The hearing will focus on how current safety net programs often fail to work together to move people out of poverty, explore how state innovation has led to meaningful national reforms, and examine how these programs can be better coordinated to reduce poverty and increase economic mobility. The hearing will take place at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, July 31, 2013, in Room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building. This hearing is the final in a three-part series of hearings on welfare reform issues.
In view of the limited time available to hear from witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. Witnesses will include experts in administering programs serving low-income families and individuals. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.
The first hearing in the Subcommittee’s three-part series on welfare reform issues focused on how the current fragmented system of low-income programs often fails to truly help those in need. One witness explained how these programs may create disincentives to increasing earnings, and a former welfare recipient described how she initially failed to receive the help she really wanted – in finding a job. While witnesses highlighted that a handful of programs promote and reward work, few programs require participants to engage in activities designed to help them find work or work more, escape poverty, and move up the economic ladder.
The second hearing in the series revealed how little is known about the effectiveness of many current programs meant to assist the poor. Witnesses testified that few low-income programs have been evaluated and that even fewer have been proven to work. While some specific interventions have demonstrated positive results, witnesses explained that other programs actually resulted in those who received program benefits experiencing worse outcomes than those who did not. The hearing also explored how Congress can ensure more programs are evaluated effectively, better use evidence in designing low-income programs, and redirect funding toward programs that have the greatest impact on reducing poverty.
The third hearing on welfare reform issues will review how States have used flexibility provided by Congress to test new ways of helping those in need, and how such flexibility might be expanded once again to allow States to provide better, more coordinated services to low-income individuals and families. For example, in the 1980s and 1990s, States were allowed to test policies such as time limits, activity requirements, and increased work incentives to determine how best to help families and individuals escape poverty. These experiments provided evidence about what works, which served as a foundation of successful reforms that were then incorporated into the 1996 welfare reform law. Such demonstration authority was expanded to child welfare programs in 1994 and to the Unemployment Insurance program in 2012. Despite such expanded flexibility in certain specific programs, States still have limited capacity to align program rules and policies across multiple programs, hindering their ability to provide well-coordinated assistance to low-income individuals and families.
In announcing the hearing, Chairman Reichert stated, “Too often, today’s maze of safety net programs doesn’t work to provide real help to those who have fallen on hard times. As our prior hearings have shown, few of these programs can actually claim to fix the problems they were created to solve. The good news is States have proven they can successfully test new ways to help low-income families and individuals go to work and support themselves. It’s time to review how this sort of flexibility has worked in the past, and how it could be used again across programs to achieve the common goal of providing real help to those in need.”
FOCUS OF THE HEARING:
The hearing will review how States have used flexibility in the past to improve services for low-income families and individuals, and how current safety net programs can be better coordinated to provide more effective assistance to those in need.
DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS:
Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, http://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.” Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Please click here to submit a statement or letter for the record.” Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. Attach your submission as a Word document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by Wednesday, August 14, 2013. Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.
The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
- All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
- Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased. All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
- All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons, and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.
The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available online at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/.