County Temporary Assistance Program Challenges | News, Sports, Jobs

Chautauqua County Director of Temporary Assistance Diane Anderson speaks to members of the Legislative Assembly Social Services Committee.

The Chautauqua County Temporary Assistance Program continues to face challenges getting people back to work.

Diane Anderson, County Certification Director – Temporary Assistance, recently spoke to the Legislature’s Social Services Committee to discuss the program.

According to the county’s website, the County’s Temporary Assistance Program provides short-term assistance to families and individuals as they work toward self-sufficiency. People who can’t work, can’t find a job, or have a job that doesn’t pay enough to meet their basic needs, temporary assistance — using federal and state programs — may be able to help. to pay their expenses.

Eligibility for family assistance and safety net assistance is determined on the basis of income and means.

During the committee meeting, Anderson noted that ten years ago New York State’s labor participation rate was 34.2 percent and Chautauqua County’s was 10 percent. Today, the state participation rate has fallen to 10.8% and 5.7% for the department.

“We have been working to increase this rate and have had some success leading up to COVID,” Anderson said. “Since then, I think everyone across the state has struggled to re-engage people after nearly two and a half years of no professional activities.”

Conciliation notes are sent when the county discovers that someone is not participating in work activities for the maximum number of hours required.

For job readiness, Anderson said one of the challenges is that they don’t have Spanish-speaking staff to run the program. “We are working on it to solve it soon”, she says.

Anderson believes there are employment opportunities in the county. “There are plenty of jobs available, but not many people are ready to accept the jobs right now,” she says.

Some of the reasons may be language barriers. She also said people cite mental health issues.

County Legislator Dan Pavlock, R-Sinclairville, noted that drugs can be a problem for those looking for work.

“One thing you hear in the business world, especially in our county, is that people can’t take a drug test to get a job, or once they know there’s got a drug test for a job, they don’t show up for an interview,” he said.

Anderson said they work with those who struggle with chemical addiction. In January, 102 people were referred for an assessment from substance abuse assessment services, 48% of whom did not show up. Of the 53 who were assessed, 14 did not meet treatment criteria, 24 were already in treatment and 15 were referred to start treatment.

Combining Temporary Assistance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Emergency Assistance, Anderson said in January that 1,604 applications had been submitted. She said about 30% were turned down because people didn’t comply with the program.

“Often they don’t get the paperwork and don’t contact us for help – or they don’t show up for the employment assessment or the drug and alcohol screening assessment,” she says.

Today’s breaking news and more to your inbox

Edward K. Thompson