Education approved as welfare work requirement

Senators gave final approval March 1 to a bill that expands educational opportunities under the Welfare Reform Act.

LB507, introduced by Scottsbluff Sen. John Harms, allows an applicant who is 21 years old or the head of a household to meet the state’s self-sufficiency requirement by making satisfactory progress in certain educational pursuits.

Under the bill, an applicant will qualify for benefits if he or she maintains satisfactory attendance at a secondary school, a general education development (GED) program or equivalent or participates in education directly related to employment for an average of 20 hours per week.

The bill also makes the school and work requirements for 19-year-olds the same as those for applicants 18 or younger and classifies education directly related to work as a “core” activity for a person under 24 years old who is engaged in 20 hours per week of such education.

The state Department of Health and Human Services must carry out the bill’s provisions within the limits of its annual appropriation and may place reasonable limits on the number of applicants who can pursue education directly related to employment if work participation rates fall below 55 percent.

LB507 passed on a 48-0 vote.

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