September 19, 1996
Wisconsin Conservation Corps becomes part of welfare reform answer
An innovative state program will help people get off welfare while providing valuable
services to local communities and neighborhoods at the same time.
The Wisconsin Conservation Corps will provide paid community service work for at least
50 AFDC recipients to help them get off welfare and into permanent jobs, announced its
executive director, Randall Radtke, and Richard C. Wegner, Acting Secretary of the Wis.
Department of Workforce Development.
This Conservation Corps initiative is a precursor of the community service jobs program
envisioned in Wisconsin Works, the job-based replacement for the AFDC welfare program.
For those who are not quite ready for unsubsidized jobs in the real world, W-2 provides
community service jobs - the middle rung of three steps on W-2's self-sufficiency ladder.
[For those with more severe problems, W-2 transition provides sheltered workshop-like
jobs; those who are more advanced will take advantage of trial jobs - real world jobs for
which a portion of the wage is subsidized to compensate the employer's training costs.]
"Our program with the Wisconsin Conservation Corps is an example of the kind of
partnership Wisconsin Works can forge with community-based organizations throughout
Wisconsin," Wegner said. "These pioneers will demonstrate how welfare reform can
revitalize individuals, their families, and their neighborhoods. Wisconsin will be rooting for
Working up to 12 months, participants learn basic carpentry and conservation techniques
through projects in natural resource conservation, community development, and human
services. WCC crews build playgrounds, trails, handicapped-accessible ramps; landscape,
remodel, and weatherize schools, community centers, and nature centers.
"Just as important, they learn the importance of coming to work on time, following
direction, and putting in a full day's work," Radtke said. "This initiative is consistent with
one of the missions of the WCC when it was founded in 1983: to train and develop young
adults between the ages of 18 and 25," Radtke added.
Participants will be drawn from those eligible for the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills
(JOBS) program or the Food Stamp Employment and Training program.
For the first two months, the new corps members will be given their regular monthly AFDC
grant. Thereafter, they will be paid the same as other corps members (minimum wage of
$4.75 an hour, as of Oct. 1). The new corps members remain eligible for food stamps, child
care, transportation assistance, and Medicaid. Those who successfully complete the
program are eligible for tuition vouchers of $2,400 at 12 months, pro-rated to $1,200 at six
months. All necessary safety equipment, such as gloves and goggles, is provided.
WCC is a non-residential program; its 250 to 300 corps members statewide are not
required to be away from their own homes overnight. Accomodations for disabled
individuals who want to join the corps can also be made.
For more information, contact Randy Radtke at 608/266-7730