For long-term recipients like 23-year-old Tracy Gearhart, a single mother of one from Minneapolis, the inducements to try work--along with the constant prodding of a caseworker she was required to check in with--finally did the trick. After almost five years on welfare, Gearhart recently took a full-time job as a membership representative at the YWCA, earning $7.25 an hour. Now with money in a savings account and once-fuzzy career plans clarified by exposure to the job market, she says she'll never go back to the life she lived on welfare.
"I had said, 'I'm just not going to get anywhere making $7.25 per hour.' I wanted to start out at the top. I wanted them to put me through college," she said Wednesday. But Gearhart's caseworker, Kate Ellefson, pounded home MFIP's message that to get a good job, you have to start somewhere. She showed Gearhart how, under MFIP, taking a $7.25-per-hour-job could nearly double her income. And she could put her 5-year-old daughter, Samantha, in day care at no cost until her income started to grow.