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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 19, 2000

Governor Announces Receipt of a Nearly $17 Million Federal Bonus for Successful Efforts in Helping People Gain Employment

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that Illinois will receive $16.9 million as a High Performance Bonus award from the U.S. Department Health and Human Services as a result of ranking as one of the top ten states in the nation for moving people from welfare to work.

"More than 154,000 Illinoisans have worked their way off of welfare since July 1997," said Governor George H. Ryan. "This performance bonus proves that our welfare, job training and educational initiatives are all working together to make Illinois one of the best in the nation for helping people leave assistance to gain employment.

"This is the second consecutive year we have won this award, and we could not have done it without the support of the Illinois legislature, the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) and the hundreds of professionals who are dedicated to helping people on assistance achieve their independence."

Of those whose case was canceled due to earnings, 92.8 percent did not return to assistance within 12 months and 86.9 percent did not return after 24 months. As of December 2000, nearly 77 percent of the cases with earnings were working at least 30 hours a week.

The TANF caseload of people who are available to work, but were unemployed has been reduced from 140,898 in July of 1997 to 46,999 cases as of December 2000, a decline of 67 percent. The proportion of the working caseload has increased from 27.1 percent in July 1997 to 44.7 percent as of December 2000.

The High Performance Bonus is part of the Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) program created by the 1996 welfare reform legislation. Forty-eight states and the District of Colombia competed for funds, and Illinois' $16.9 million total is part of $200 million that will be shared by 28 states.

The High Performance Bonus has been offered for the last two years and Illinois; along with Arizona, Florida and Wyoming; have won funds both years. Since the program began, the State has been awarded $38.3 million, which places Illinois third behind California and Texas for total earnings.

Funds are awarded to states based on their annual results in four categories: job placement; job success, retention and increased earnings in the workforce. States are ranked on biggest improvement in job placement and job success in the workforce.

"Seeing our state recognized for its welfare to work performance is very gratifying, and being identified as one of the top states in the nation shows that all the hard work is paying off," said DHS Secretary Linda ReneƩ Baker. "I believe that this award really belongs to the staffs of our local offices who are committed to transforming the lives of our clients, and to the thousands of parents who had the courage to believe that it was within their ability to provide a better life for their children. The most important thing is knowing that the lives of over 154,000 families have been transformed for the better."

The High Performance Bonus was for the one year period between October 1, 1998 and September 30, 1999.


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