Massachusetts, once a national leader in welfare reform, needs to reinvigorate its commitment to helping recipients succeed in the workforce.
A good first step would be for Governor Charlie Baker to instruct the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) to reinstate the work component of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program.
Under federal rules, SNAP recipients between 18 and 50 without dependent children can get benefits for only three months within a three-year period if they do not work or participate in a workfare or employment and training program. With some exceptions, able-bodied adults between 16 and 60 must register for work, accept suitable employment, and take part in an employment and training program to which they are referred by the SNAP office. Currently, Massachusetts is one of 42 states that have at least a partial waiver exempting able-bodied adults from this requirement.