Center Addresses New York City Contracts for Welfare-to-Work (education and training) and WeCARE (for persons with disabilities)

New York City has greatly expanded the role of private contractors in (1) assessing the need for, and delivering, education and training services for people entering the workforce, and (2) screening for disabilities, determining accommodations to be made, and providing appropriate services for persons with disabilities. In each of these areas, the Center continues to play a major role in protecting people in need of services.

Welfare-to-Work. As a result of the comprehensive settlement the Center negotiated in Davila v. Eggleston (2003), New York City can no longer assign welfare recipients, regardless of needs and abilities, just to workfare. Instead, individual differences and divergent needs must be recognized and met. Recipients can perform a variety of tasks, including education, training, job search, resume building, and job preparation.

WeCARE. The City has entered into multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts with two private contractors to administer the WeCARE program intended to serve more than 135,000 individuals with disabilities in the welfare system over a three-year period. The contractors are to provide a wide range of services, including bio-psychosocial assessments, case management, rehabilitation services, and the drafting and monitoring of wellness plans (written plans requiring individuals with disabilities to participate in medical or mental health treatment as a condition of receiving welfare benefits).

Throughout the contracting process, the Center played a critical role in shaping the language of these contracts. We wanted to make sure that the contracts (1) increased protections for clients; and (2) minimized the broad discretion given to contractors and subcontractors to design and operate these programs as they choose without regard to the constraints of the Americans with Disability Act or the reasonable modifications that need to be made. Because of our extensive comments on the draft contracts and testimony (as the only witness) at three rounds of hearings, the City improved the final contracts.

Additional Information:

Welfare Advocacy in the Privatized Era: A Case Study of Advocacy to Shape the Welfare Disability Assessment Process in New York City (May 2004) (PDF)

NCLEJ Testimony on Issues on New York City WeCARE Program for Public Assistance Applicants with Disabilities (October 2007) (PDF)