What is the program's goal?
The goal of the Economic Self-Sufficiency Program is to help participants gain the education, skills and resources to achieve permanent economic self-sufficiency without any future need for cash welfare subsidies. In order to reach the goal, each participant completes a comprehensive assessment and develops a strengths-based goal plan in partnership with a Self-Sufficiency Coach. Every plan centers on attaining the education and training necessary to secure employment in a high-demand sector that pays a family-sustaining wage. Participants work with a Self-Sufficiency Coach for up to five years to implement, regularly evaluate and revise the plan as necessary. In addition to education and employment, every plan addresses childcare, health insurance, transportation, education, budgeting, financial literacy including banking and credit, reciprocity and establishing healthy successful relationships within the community in addition to Bucks County Opportunity Council staff.
Does it work?
To date, 299 families who were on or eligible for welfare have graduated from the program since it was established in 1997, and 62 graduates are homeowners. Every graduate has employment that pays a family-sustaining wage, a balanced budget, reliable transportation, affordable housing, a health plan for the entire family, acceptable credit or an approved credit repair plan, and basic employability skills. Graduates no longer rely on cash welfare subsidies including subsidized housing, food stamps or cash assistance to make ends meet.
Is the program right for me?
Candidates for the Economic Self-Sufficiency Program must have an annual household income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Income Guideline, which is $38,180 for a family of three. Candidates for the program must also agree to:
- Actively participate in a comprehensive self-assessment, and the development and active implementation of a goal plan
- Meet with a Self-Sufficiency Coach on a weekly basis
- Work full-time or attend a full-time education program
- Submit relevant documentation including pay stubs, all monthly bills, income tax information, car insurance, and car registration on a regular basis
The Economic Self-Sufficiency Program is not an entitlement program. It is intended for hard-working, motivated people seeking an opportunity to permanently leave poverty. Candidates most likely to succeed in the program quickly answer “yes” when asked, “Are you working or are you willing to begin working tomorrow?”