Audit shows state struggling to shift Oregonians from welfare to employment

, Written by Kassi Nelson, Posted: Fri, April 25 2014 at 5:47 PM, Updated: Mon, April 28 2014 at 9:49 PM

Medford, Ore. -- According to a new report released by the Secretary of State's Office, Oregon is not doing enough to get people off welfare.

The audit shows even though the economy is improving as of February there are still 91,400 Oregonians on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, more commonly known as welfare.

Heather Bennett is one of the people on TANF. She is a single mom and has been out of work for a year.

"What I'm getting is $423 a month and they deduct my child support. And $50 for child support so a maximum of $473," she said.

The audit shows Oregon provided welfare benefits to more families than 41 other states and even though the economy is slowly reducing welfare cases the number of families receiving help is not expected to return to pre-recession levels in years.

In 2011 the state cut money for services and staff designed to help parents like Bennett get jobs. But the audit shows they made little progress and that Oregonians on welfare spent just over 14 hours a month on job seeking activities. The lowest in the nation.

Bennett said she's not one of those people. She participates in a job program through Goodwill. A program she said is helping her get prepared to reenter the workforce.

"I think in the long run it will pay off, but I think right now my primary focus is safe and secure housing," Bennett said.

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About the Author

Kassi Nelson

NBC5 News reporter Kassi Nelson was born and raised in Nebraska. She graduated from the journalism school at University of Nebraska Lincoln where she studied broadcasting.

She also studied philosophy in the Czech Republic. Kassi has visited nine other countries including Sochi, Russia, where she reported on the preparations for the 2014 Olympic Games.

She loves skiing and live concerts!

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