Washington State began WorkFirst, the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, in August 1997. Now in its 13th year of operation, the program provides cash grants, medical assistance, welfare -to-work services, and work supports (including subsidized child care through the Working Connections Child Care program) to eligible low-income families. The goal of WorkFirst is to help low-income families build a pathway that can lead them out of poverty and toward economic security.
With the signing of Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 3141 on April 1, 2010, Governor Christine Gregoire directed the WorkFirst Subcabinet to “examine how to best meet the challenges for WorkFirst families to obtain employment and achieve family self-sufficiency,” and provide a report and plan to implement evidence-based best practices that are sustainable within a block grant program. The Governor challenged the WorkFirst Subcabinet to think anew and to ‘reboot’ WorkFirst for the 21st century. (author abstract)