Current state law requires that, in two-parent families enrolled in the Rhode Island Works program (Rhode Islands Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program), one of the parents be engaged in certain work activities at least 35 hours each week, essentially full-time. The current law does not allow the parents to share the responsibility of meeting that requirement, although such a provision is allowable under the federal standards that govern the program.
Senator Goldins bill (2013-S 825) changes the state law so either one parent may fulfill the requirement or both parents my share the responsibility, enabling parents who each have jobs that provide them with fewer than 35 hours a week to meet the requirement, as long as they add up to 35 hours together.
This bill is a minor, but meaningful, change to Rhode Island Works for our struggling families. Now, parents can equally share the work and child-care responsibilities in their families and still qualify for Rhode Island Works, said Senator Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence). Given the state of the economy, there are too few full-time jobs available for the many who need them. The Rhode Island Works program shouldnt disqualify parents who are doing what they can against long odds, as long as it adds up to the required number of hours. This change recognizes the reality of the situation facing many families right now.
Senator Goldin sponsored the legislation on behalf of the Department of Human Services.
The department is grateful to Senator Goldin for submitting this bill on our behalf, said Sandra Powell, Director of the Department of Human Services. This legislation makes a change in the law that will mean a great deal for the two-parent families who participate in the RI Works program and for the overall success of the program. With this action, Rhode Island law will align with federal rules and create a wider pathway for RI Works parents to participate in the workforce by giving both parents options for part-time work while meeting the program requirements.
The legislation is cosponsored by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) and Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence). Identical legislation is being sponsored in the House by Rep. Maria Cimini (D-Dist. 7, Providence).