"Operation Transition" Begins Moving Welfare Recipients into Jobs Immediately
GREEN BAY - Governor Tommy G. Thompson today announced a major state effort to
help AFDC recipients move into waiting jobs in Wisconsin's healthy private sector
economy before their benefits expire.
"Operation Transition" is designed to help current AFDC recipients find work now due to
the impending termination of welfare in Wisconsin. The new initiative is scheduled to begin
"We know that the overwhelming majority of welfare recipients really do want to work,"
Governor Thompson said. "Operation Transition is an exciting opportunity to help those
trapped in the welfare system regain their sense of freedom and self-sufficiency through
Operation Transition is a three-pronged program:
1.Thompson said that the Wis. Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations
has already mobilized the state's entire state employment and training system so
that the 66,000 current adult AFDC recipients can begin joining the 2.75 million job
holders already working in Wisconsin as soon as possible, rather than wait for the
end of welfare.
"Wisconsin needs these workers and it is good to feel needed," Thompson said
Wednesday at the Brown County Job Center in Green Bay. "This is a win-win
situation for AFDC recipients, employers and taxpayers."
2.In addition, beginning in March, all individuals who apply for welfare in all 72
counties will have to meet first with a "financial planner," who will advise applicants
on how to obtain immediate work or use alternative means of temporary support,
such as family and friends, rather than fall into the AFDC trap.
3.The Department of Health and Social Services also will require all individuals
eligible for the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program to participate for
a scheduled number of hours in order to receive a check, in a system much like that
of regular employment. The necessary federal waivers have already been obtained.
The State Legislature in 1994 voted to end welfare in Wisconsin in 1999. The legislature is
currently considering the Governor's comprehensive welfare reform proposal called
"Wisconsin Works," or "W-2," which is slated to begin in September 1997. The Federal
Congress is now considering welfare reform legislation which also either ends or sharply
curtails the traditional welfare system.
Operation Transition is being started now in order to ease the transition for employers,
program managers, and - most especially - the new workers themselves, Thompson said.
"We want to help those who most need it to get a leg up now rather than wait until the last
minute when the welfare checks, by law, stop coming."
Since 1987, Wisconsin's welfare caseload has been reduced by 32 percent - more than
double that of any other state. Between October and November 1995, alone, the total
AFDC caseload declined by 1,800 families to a total of 66,807.
Wisconsin's economy is one of the strongest in the nation; employers report a chronic
shortage of workers and unfilled jobs throughout the state. Wisconsin's Job Service
reports that employers statewide have posted 37 percent more job openings in the fourth
quarter of 1995, compared to a year earlier, while applications for those jobs were down 5
Operation Transition will employ "Job Fairs," work shops, award-winning new JobNet
technology, and a public awareness campaign. A special outreach effort is underway to
encourage employers to post their job listings. Jobs will be delivered through Wisconsin's
network of Job Centers - 62 are already in place or in development - in a new, unified,
comprehensive employment and training program called the "Partnership For Full
Employment," which is being developed to replace the myriad of such programs that had
been scattered in different agencies.
Workshops will be conducted for current AFDC recipients to acclimate them to the
requirements of the workplace on how to interview for a job, employer expectations, and
other employability skills.
Thompson said that Operation Transition would enable the state to move gradually toward
ending the AFDC cash payment system altogether in 1997. This approach will:
Enable current welfare recipients to make a positive and successful transition to
Discourage new AFDC applicants from becoming dependent on the system in the
Discourage welfare seekers from other states from "benefit shopping;"
Provide early warning for people at risk of welfare dependency to plan now for more
Enable the child care system to expand at a realistic pace in order to provide safe
and affordable services to a growing work force;
Safeguard against suppression of worker wages by avoiding a sudden and abrupt
influx of workers into the job market;
Allow state government to monitor the results of welfare reform to assure that it is
working for all.
Provide even more savings that can be applied toward strengthening families and
A greater-than-anticipated drop in the number of people receiving welfare this fiscal year
alone will translate into savings of $54 million in state tax dollars by mid-1997.