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Statistics reveal need for training

The number of Washington County residents receiving welfare checks is starting to creep up for the first time in more than six y

The number of Washington County residents receiving welfare checks is starting to creep up for the first time in more than six y

March 17, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Referring to the federal No Child Left Behind act, Hagerstown Community College President Guy Altieri jokingly calls the college's new job training program for at-risk adults, "No Adult Left Behind."

The need for the Job Training Institute, however, is no laughing matter.

"Many of these adults are being left behind, quite frankly," Altieri said. "The best thing we can do for them is to help them get that first good job."

HCC officials support the need for more funded, short-term job training opportunities in Washington County with the following statistics:

  • 9.5 percent of all county residents were living below the poverty level in 1999, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

  • More than 200 females under age 18 gave birth in Washington County in 2001, according to statistics from the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

  • A recent Washington County Hospital survey found that 53 percent of new teen mothers planned to return to school, and 58 percent of young mothers had planned to go to college before becoming pregnant.

  • There are more than 4,540 single-parent households in Washington County, and about 25 percent of the county's 30,342 children under 18 live in single-parent homes, according to Census figures.

  • Single mothers earn an average annual income of $14,153, according to the 2001 Maryland Kids Count Factbook.

  • The county's unemployment rate increased for the second consecutive month to 3.9 percent in December 2002, according to the most recent estimates from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.


And the number of Washington County residents receiving welfare checks is starting to creep up for the first time in more than six years, said Dave Engle, director of the Washington County Department of Social Services.

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The number of local welfare recipients dropped from about 1,500 in 1996 to 432 in 1999 due to aggressive job training and other programs started in response to federal welfare reform laws that required all welfare recipients to be employed or actively seeking jobs, Engle said.

Job training and counseling programs at HCC were so successful, in fact, that the Department of Social Services terminated its contract with the college in 1999 due to the low number of welfare recipients, Engle said.

But social services workers are now handling about 130 applications for financial assistance each month - an increase that comes at a time when resources for job training and other initiatives are especially tight due to budget cuts, he said.

"The Job Training Institute comes at a good time. We're tickled to see it," Engle said. "We can definitely use all the help we can get."

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