Here are just a few quotes of note from the report, which was completed by Tara Dolansky:
- Ohio Works First (OWF), which provides cash assistance and other supports to low-income families with children, is reaching only a tiny fraction of Ohio’s poor families. About two-thirds of OWF cases statewide are now child-only, meaning that the eligible child receiving benefits does not reside with his or her parents. Some counties in the state have very few or no adult OWF recipients.
- The state’s single-minded focus on meeting the work requirement to avoid penalties, without providing sufficient resources to clients for transportation or other work supports, has led to a decline in caseloads, especially for adults.
- OWF should not be viewed as a model workforce program to be emulated for the Medicaid population. Federal rules require 50 percent of OWF single parents in the program to meet work requirements, but the state failed to reach its targets for nearly five years and incurred the threat of large federal financial penalties. From January, 2011, to June, 2013, the number of adults on OWF declined by nearly 64 percent, and the number of children declined by 36 percent. The state met the work requirement because caseloads fell, not because the number of adults completing work assignments increased. The number of working families has not exceeded 13,700 since January, 2011, and it reached a two-year low of 9,490, in June, 2013.