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Chautauqua’s Welfare to Work program is growing

MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County’s Welfare to Work program is making progress in getting more people to take advantage of its job-training and part-time employment initiatives.

An additional 900 people are expected to be in the training and employment programs due to changes in the system, according to a new report presented to the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday.

Unless they are deemed ineligible for employment due to a disability, all persons are required to seek employment or participate in training if they are receiving public assistance from the county.

There are 66 work sites throughout the county where people are sent for training and to develop job skills. A total of 119 people can be placed at those sites.

Katie Giese of the Chautauqua Works program said that sending people to the sites helps build work-ready skills. She said her staff is searching for additional work sites, especially nonprofit agencies where recipients can work.

Giese said she would like a total of 320 positions available to people who need work experience. She said the people who are sent to the sites require supervision.

She also shared success stories where participants who were involved with the work experience program were hired as full-time employees.

Marge Johnson, of the county’s Human Services Department, said that participation in training and work readiness has increased by more than 100 percent in the last three years.

The committee members’ report included the average expenditure by month for participants in social service programs. Chautauqua County’s average is $238 as compared to the state average of $314.