Helping Individuals with criminal records Reenter through Employment

Welfare As We Know It Now (1999)

The purpose of this manual is to serve as a guide to service providers and advocates who work with these individuals in New York. It is not intended as a comprehensive resource on the eligibility or allocation of public benefits generally in New York. It focuses exclusively on those areas of the welfare system that are most likely to affect persons with histories of involvement in the criminal justice system, histories of alcoholism or substance abuse or persons with HIV/AIDS.

While many changes have been made to federal and state welfare laws, how the new welfare rules will be put into effect through regulation and administrative policy remains an evolving process. Since the application of the new welfare laws is still developing and since practices among welfare offices often vary depending on the county or individual district, this manual offers a comprehensive overview of the legal framework that currently exists in New York and presents the structure of laws, regulations and administrative directives that create the new welfare system. Where possible, the manual highlights areas where clients and service providers can most effectively negotiate the new welfare system in order to increase the likelihood of clients being able to access and retain public benefits in light of the new changes.

The terms "public assistance," "welfare" and "benefits" have been used interchangeably throughout the manual and refer to Family Assistance, Safety Net Assistance, and Medical Assistance, where applicable. As it is used in the text of this manual, the term "substance abuse" is meant to include both alcoholism and alcohol abuse and drug abuse and addiction.

Service providers should contact the Legal Action Center with specific questions that arise, as well as any general questions about the content of this manual. The Legal Action Center is also available for consultation in the areas of discrimination against people with criminal records, substance abuse problems, and HIV/AIDS and confidentiality of drug or alcohol abuse patient records and HIV-related information.

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