A Review of the Family Independence Act 2006-2008
The Family Independence Act (FIA) requires the Legislative Audit Council (LAC) to report every two years on the success and effectiveness of the policies and programs created under the act. Specifically, we are to review the three outcome measures required by S.C. Code §43-5-1285 – the number of families and individuals no longer receiving welfare, the number of individuals who have completed education and training, and the number of individuals finding employment. This is our seventh report about the family independence (FI) program and its management by the S.C. Department of Social Services (DSS). We found the following:
- There was a significant drop in the number of FI clients from January 2006 through December 2007. The FI caseload in December 2007 was 59% less than it was in January 1997. However, due to the recent downturn in the economy, the caseload increased 18% during the year 2008.
- From January 1, 2006, through December 31, 2007, 43,207 welfare cases were closed, with the majority being closed due to earned income.
- During January 2006 through December 2007, 3,376 FI recipients participated in some required work activity, such as employment, on-the-job training, or community service. As of December 2007, over 4,000 FI recipients participated in an educational activity, such as working towards a high school diploma. In our previous review, we recommended amending S.C. Code §43-5-1285 to require the LAC to report on the number of FI recipients participating in educational, employment, and training programs. The law was not amended.
- Based on our recommendation in the previous audit, DSS has made efforts to improve its quality control process to ensure that recipients’ work activities were allowable and properly documented. The agency provided statewide training, hired technical assistance staff, revised its policies, and hired additional quality assurance staff.
- During our two-year review period, FI clients obtained 14,710 full-time and 9,841 part-time jobs with an average hourly wage of $7.31. The majority of jobs obtained by FI clients was in the food service industry. DSS did not track how long FI clients retained their employment.
- In our previous review, we recommended that the General Assembly amend state law to eliminate the requirement that the LAC review the FI program every two years and to require the LAC to review a DSS program every three to five years. The law was not amended.
- We also previously recommended that DSS revise the program outcomes and performance measures for the FI program to include meaningful performance measures in its annual accountability report. DSS has used the same three outcome measures to report on the program and has not revised them.