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Missouri's Welfare-to-Work Program A Success

September 27, 1996
By: Tracy Sadeghian
State Capital Bureau

Welfare-to-work programs are a key component of the federal government's Welfare Reform Law.

The law forces clients to find work after two years, or face being cut from the welfare rolls.

And there's now a five-year lifetime limit on collecting benefits.

Missouri's welfare-to-work program has been up and running since the summer of 1995. Even Clinton has cited the state a role-model for the nation.

K-B-I-A's Tracy Sadeghian (Sah-DEEG-gin) visited a Sedalia company taking advantage of this program.

Story:Sadeghian
RunTime:
OutCue: SOC

Missouri Senate Pro Tem Jim Mathewson, created Missouri's welfare-to-work program in his own back yard.

He says the program was sparked when he received a call from an official with Tyson Chicken, seeking his help in finding people to work its assembly lines. The Sedalia plant processes 180-thousand chickens a day.

Senator Mathewson contacted the Family Services Division. It began referring food stamp applicants..looking for work..directly to Tyson for interviews.

Actuality:Mathewson
RunTime:
OutCue: "of food stamps"
Contents: "And if they don't show up or if they don't accept the job that's offered then we'll turn right around and pull them off of food stamps."

Jennifer Thomas is the Personnel Manager at Tyson Foods. She says 44 people already have left the welfare lines to kill and cut up chicken.

Actuality:Thomas
RunTime:
OutCue: "fully cooked lines"
Contents: "They can do anything from kill the bird to eviscerate the bird to work on our de-bones lines..uh further processing lines or fully cooked lines." Actuality: Nat. Sound
RunTime: 10
OutCue: noise
FILL Sound of water spraying chickens in the assembly line.

William Cornine works on Tyson's assembly line as an eviscerator.

He's been working in factory jobs and farms his entire life.

But bad luck hit when he was injured on the job on an Indiana hog farm. He returned to Sedalia to take care of his sick mother. And it was his mother's case worker who told him about the job at Tyson.

Actuality:Cornine
RunTime: 10
OutCue: "...that could work."
Contents:

"I think everybody that can work should work. I think that should be a law because I know there are a lot of them on welfare that could work."

Actuality:Nat sound
RunTime: 10
OutCue: clinking noise of assembly line
Contents: clinking noise of the assembly line

Joe cleans tubs at the plant. When his unemployment ran out, he went to the welfare office and signed on with Tyson.

Actuality:Joe
RunTime:
OutCue: "...even try that."
Contents:

"Welfare put my name on a list and sent me over here at a certain date and they hired me. The unemployment office didn't even do that."

The new federal law requires that by the year 2-thousand-two, 50-percent of welfare recipients must be working. Tyson's Personnel Director, Jennifer Thomas, thinks that goal is achievable.

Actuality:Thomas
RunTime:
OutCue: "..jobs out here."
Contents:

"There are jobs out there if people want to work then there will be jobs provided for them. Because the unskilled labor market is not flooded with people. We need people. Uh, ya know, we drive around town and there's help wanted signs at McDonald's, there's help wanted signs at the grocery stores. So there are jobs out there."

So far, Missouri's welfare-to-work program has employed 2-thousand-200 welfare clients, saving taxpayers $7-million-dollars. 95 counties and 421 companies in Missouri now participate in the program. For K-B-I-A Radio, I'm Tracy Sadeghian.