Relates to requiring participation in education programs leading to a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma for those seeking public assistance.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation to requiring participation in educational programs leading to a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma for those seeking public assistance
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The purpose of this legislation is to increase the likelihood that individuals will obtain a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma by requiring those who do not have such a diploma to participate in good faith in an educational program leading to such a diploma as a condition for receiving welfare benefits.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: The bill adds a new subdivision 21 to section 131 of the social services law to prohibit the payment of public assistance benefits to any person under the age of 35 who does not have a high school diploma or a high school equivalency diploma unless such person is duly enrolled and participating in good faith toward the attainment of such a diploma. The local social services district is given broad discretionary authority to waive this requirement where such a course of study is not practical or cost-effective based on the person's mental capacity, employment background, job training, career development credentials, health, disability, lack of educational programs, or other factors.
JUSTIFICATION: The empirical data regarding the importance of a high school degree is overwhelming. The vast majority of jobs require a high school diploma or its equivalent, including participation in the U.S. military. According to data from the U.S. Census, the average drop-out will earn one-third less than a high school graduate, will suffer from unemployment rates that are nearly 50% higher, and will be nearly three times more likely to live in poverty. High school drop-outs account for nearly 50% of the heads of households on welfare, and commit about 75% of all crimes.
For those who are struggling to complete their high school education, the current social services law offers an extraordinarily destructive option of enabling a young person to drop-out of high school and collect welfare benefits. This legislation would eliminate that option by making it clear that participating in good faith toward obtaining a high school diploma is a condition for any welfare benefits.
Recognizing that attaining a high school diploma or a high school equivalency diploma is not always cost-effective or feasible, the bill provides local social services districts with broad discretionary authority to exempt individuals from this requirement based on their mental health, disability, work experience, job training, the lack of sufficient programs, or other reasonable factors.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: The implementation of this bill would require additional resources for adult education, but those costs would be offset by reduced welfare dependency, increased fiscal independence, reduced crime, and related savings.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This bill would become effective 120 day after enactment.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6908 IN SENATE March 27, 2014 ___________Introduced by Sen. YOUNG -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Social Services AN ACT to amend the social services law, in relation to requiring participation in educational programs leading to a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma for those seeking public assistance THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Purpose. The legislature hereby finds that obtaining a high school diploma or a high school equivalency diploma is often essen- tial for successful private sector employment and personal financial independence, self-sufficiency, and success. Indeed, many occupations require a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma as a precondition for employment. Individuals without a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma are often relegated to low paying jobs, and suffer much higher unemployment rates than those with a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma. It is therefore in the public interest to require individuals who are capable of obtaining a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma to be engaged in good faith efforts to obtain that objective. S 2. Section 131 of the social services law is amended by adding a new subdivision 21 to read as follows: 21. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY PROVISIONS OF THIS CHAPTER OR OTHER LAW TO THE CONTRARY, NO PUBLIC ASSISTANCE SHALL BE GIVEN TO OR FOR ANY PERSON OVER FIVE YEARS OF AGE OR UNDER THIRTY-FIVE YEARS OF AGE WHO DOES NOT HAVE A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA OR A HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY DIPLOMA OR IS NOT DULY ENROLLED AND PARTICIPATING IN GOOD FAITH TOWARD THE ATTAINMENT OF A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA OR A HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY DIPLOMA, UNLESS SUCH PERSON HAS BEEN DETERMINED BY A MEDICAL, PSYCHIATRIC, OR OTHER APPROPRIATE PROFESSIONAL TO LACK THE REQUISITE CAPACITY TO COMPLETE SUCCESSFULLY SUCH A COURSE OF STUDY OR THE LOCAL SOCIAL SERVICES DISTRICT DETERMINES THAT SUCH A COURSE OF STUDY IS NOT PRACTICAL OR COST-EFFECTIVE BASED ON THE PERSON'S EMPLOYMENT BACKGROUND OR EXPERIENCE, JOB TRAINING, POSSESSION OF A CAREER DEVELOPMENT OCCUPATIONAL STUDIES CREDENTIAL, WORKEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD11799-04-4 S. 6908 2
SKILLS, HEALTH, DISABILITY, THE LACK OF AVAILABLE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS, OR OTHER FACTORS. S 3. The commissioner of the office of temporary and disability assistance shall have the authority to promulgate or amend any regu- lations necessary for the implementation of this act. S 4. This act shall take effect on the one hundred twentieth day after it shall have become a law.