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December 10, 1999

Illinois To Receive $21.6 Million Welfare-To-Work Bonus

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the federal government has awarded the state of Illinois a $21.6 million "high performance" bonus because the state is ranked among the top states in the nation in moving people from welfare to work and ensuring their success in the workforce.

"More than 115,000 Illinoisans have worked their way off welfare since July 1997," said Ryan. "The performance bonus is proof of what we've said all along, that we are doing welfare reform the right way. It also proves the value of managing for results in government, a priority of my administration and the General Assembly."

The High Performance Bonus is part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program created by the 1996 welfare reform legislation and implemented by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). Forty-six of the 50 states competed for the money. Illinois' $21.6 million total is more than 10 percent of the $200 million in bonus money to be shared by 27 states.

The money is awarded to states based on their annual results in four categories: job placement, job success (including job retention and earnings), biggest improvement in job placement and biggest improvement in job success.

Illinois ranked 10th in the nation in job placement and fifth in most improvement in job success. Illinois was one of only 11 states to receive bonuses in two categories and one of only two states to place in the top 15 in all four categories.

"This is great news for the state of Illinois and it's especially gratifying to achieve national recognition for doing the right thing for families on welfare," said DHS Secretary Howard A. Peters III. "Illinois chose to work with families and address the factors which ensure a successful transition to self-sufficiency."

The Available-to-Work TANF caseload has been reduced from 140,898 cases in July 1997 to 71,941 cases as of November 1999, a decline of 49 percent.

The proportion of the caseload who are working has increased from 27.1 percent in July 1997 to 47 percent in November 1999. As of November 1999, nearly 75 percent of the cases with earnings were working at least 30 hours a week.

Of those leaving welfare, 89 percent did not return to assistance within 12 months and 76 percent did not return after 24 months.

The High Performance Bonus was for the one year period between October 1, 1997 and September 30, 1998. The state continued to show significant improvement in Fiscal Year 1999 which ended on September 30 and expects to be a top contender for a bonus award for that year as well. Peters said the state's goal is to receive High Performance Bonus awards in each of the five years they're offered.


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