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Harvard Trains Welfare Recipients

Public Health, Medical School Employ Former AFDC Parents

By Barbara E. Martinez

There are other routes into Harvard Medical School (HMS) besides a 3.8 GPA and a 39 on the MCAT.

Welfare recipients who have undergone intensive training can now find their first job at HMS, due to a Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) program.

Last summer, welfare recipients living in two Boston neighborhoods--Mission Hill and the Fenway--began training for jobs which require skill and experience. Now in its second year, this Harvard program has been lauded by administrators and participants alike.

The residents of the public housing developments in these neighborhoods live across the street, but worlds away, from HMS and HSPH.

When HSPH wanted to construct a new building, it proposed that it run a welfare to work program for its Mission Hill neighbors, in lieu of giving the $300,000, normally required of developers, to Boston's Neighborhood Job Trust.

Harvard's program takes no or low-income residents and prepares them for employment in three steps.

Participants undergo an intensive training program, work as interns at either HSPH or HMS and are given support as they move into permanent employment.

The Harvard program has a relatively high success rate. Of its first internship class, 75 percent obtained permanent employment.

"The numbers of people served by this program are not important," said Kevin A. McCluskey '76, director of community relations for the University. "It is more the intensity of this program that distinguishes it from others.

HSPH has enlisted other Boston organizations who have expertise in training welfare recipients.

The Boston Housing Authority, the Sociedad Latina in Roxbury, Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) and the Fenway Community Development Corporation have been involved in various aspects of the Harvard Program. For example, ABCD has taught the participants basic job skills, including accounting and word processing.

Harvard's program address the new Massachusetts welfare requirements, which are among the most stringent in the nation.

The state requires able-bodied recipients with school-age children to work or volunteer 20 hours per week. In addition, it allows those recipients with children over two years of age only two years of benefits.

According to The Boston Globe, two years from now, half of the 79,000 cases in Massachusetts receiving funds from Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children will have lost their benefits

The state requires able-bodied recipients with school-age children to work or volunteer 20 hours per week. In addition, it allows those recipients with children over two years of age only two years of benefits.

According to The Boston Globe, two years from now, half of the 79,000 cases in Massachusetts receiving funds from Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children will have lost their benefits

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