Establishes a transitional welfare-to-work benefits program for
public assistance recipients.

THE SENATE                              S.B. NO.           
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2000                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  The Federal Personal Responsibility and Work
 2 Opportunity Act of 1996 abolished the sixty-one year old Aid to
 3 Families with Dependent Children entitlement program and replaced
 4 it with a transitional aid program called the Temporary
 5 Assistance to Needy Families program that requires recipients who
 6 are able to work to secure employment at the earliest
 7 opportunity.  The new law places a heavy burden on the states to
 8 meet strict work participation requirements.
 9      The federal requirements have set a laudable goal.  Work is
10 the cornerstone of the community's shared values of personal
11 responsibility and self-sufficiency.  In addition, work promotes
12 self-discipline and self-esteem.  
13      The vast majority of public assistance recipients share the
14 community values of parental responsibility and work ethic, and
15 will accept financial responsibility for themselves and their
16 children when given a real opportunity to achieve self-
17 sufficiency.  Many barriers to work, however, frustrate the best
18 efforts of public assistance recipients to join the work force on
19 a permanent basis.  Moreover, sharp competition for scarce jobs
20 often leaves those with little experience or education behind.

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 1      Over ninety per cent of assistance households are currently
 2 headed by women.  Since approximately two-thirds of all women in
 3 Hawaii are working in sales, clerical, and service type jobs
 4 which receive the lowest wages, it is unlikely that the majority
 5 of assistance households will be able to move out of poverty and
 6 be self-sufficient without adding to their knowledge and skills
 7 to increase their earning capacity. 
 8      Toward that end, the legislature finds that transitional
 9 benefits are needed to provide the necessary support to enable
10 recipients to secure education and training beyond high school.
11      The purpose of this Act is to support the successful
12 transition from public assistance to self-sufficiency through a
13 transitional benefits program for public assistance recipients.
14      It is the intent of this Act to establish policies that
15 encourage the pursuit and successful completion of higher
16 education in order for single parents and their children to
17 achieve a stable future.
18      SECTION 2.  Chapter 346, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended
19 by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to
20 read as follows:
21      "346-     Bridge-to-hope program; transitional benefits.
22 (a)  There is created within the department a post-secondary

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 1 education transitional benefits program, to be known as the
 2 "bridge-to-hope" program, for heads of households in the
 3 Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. 
 4      (b)  The department shall provide to all Temporary
 5 Assistance to Needy Families recipients who are not exempt from
 6 work requirements the option of pursuing post-secondary
 7 education, at the same time that they are referred to first-to-
 8 work program. 
 9      (c)  To receive assistance under this program, the single
10 parent shall:
11      (1)  Be working or looking for work;
12      (2)  Be enrolled in a course of study approved by the
13           department;
14      (3)  Be enrolled in a minimum of    credit hours each
15           semester while enrolled; provided that the number of
16           credit hours shall be calculated in the same manner
17           followed by the University of Hawaii system campuses;
18           and
19      (4)  Have an income below the current federal poverty level
20           for the appropriate household size applicable in the
21           State.
22      (d)  Any eligible participant who receives an exemption
23 under this section shall be eligible for or shall continue to
24 receive child care, transportation assistance, and all other

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 1 support services as may be necessary to allow the participant to
 2 attend post-secondary school; provided that the participant shall
 3 submit satisfactory evidence to the department that the
 4 participant:
 5      (1)  Is currently enrolled in an approved course of study
 6           and taking the number of credit hours required under
 7           subsection (c)(3);
 8      (2)  Has maintained passing grades or better throughout the
 9           course of study; and
10      (3)  Completes the course of study by the end of two years
11           beyond the recipient's time limit.
12      (e)  The participant shall submit a copy of a diploma,
13 certificate, or other satisfactory proof of completion of the
14 educational or vocational program upon the participant's
15 graduation from the program.  The exemption provided by this
16 section shall not exceed    semesters at any one or more schools
17 or other institutions in the State in any five-year period.
18      (f)  Additional assistance to be provided under this section
19 shall include additional subsidies; provided that all available
20 educational financial aid has been accessed.
21      (g)  The number of credits carried by the recipient shall
22 count towards work requirements under the Temporary Assistance to
23 Needy Families program.

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 1      (h)  The bridge-to-home program shall be exempt from the
 2 Temporary Assistance to Needy Families maintenance of effort.
 3      (i)  For purposes of this section, "substantial hardships"
 4 means a situation where an individual is incapable of
 5 simultaneously meeting public assistance requirements,
 6 educational commitments, and parenting responsibilities to remain
 7 or become self-sufficient.
 8      (j)  The department shall adopt rules in accordance
 9 with chapter 91 to carry out the purposes of this section."
10      SECTION 3.  The department of human services shall ensure
11 that its activities taken under this section shall be consistent
12 with the principles and goals of promoting self-sufficiency,
13 earning an educational degree, eliminating poverty, and
14 safeguarding the health, safety, and welfare of Hawaii's poor
15 children.  The department shall provide a yearly evaluation that
16 utilizes graduation rates and employability as benchmarks to
17 determine success.
18      SECTION 4.  There is appropriated out of the general
19 revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $    or so much
20 thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2000-2001 for the
21 bridge-to-hope program.  
22      The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of
23 human services for the purposes of this Act.

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 1      SECTION 5.  New statutory material is underscored.
 2      SECTION 6.  This Act shall take effect July 1, 2000.
 4                       INTRODUCED BY:  ___________________________