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New program requires three-week assessment for cash assistance applicants

Unemployment line in California
Michael Raphael
Unemployment benefits will run out for millions of Americans this spring if Congress doesn't extend the unemployment insurance program (an unemployment line in California in 2007).

Applicants for cash assistance in Michigan will have to go through a new 21-day assessment.

The state Department of Human Services Wednesday said the program is meant to bolster applicants’ job prospects.

The PATH program will replace a less intensive job training program.

DHS spokesman Dave Akerly said many people can’t find or keep a job because they have trouble finding child care and transportation.

“We need to address this when they come in to apply—either for the very first time or on a reapplication—and make sure that these problems and barriers are brought to the forefront before they make that step in to try to actually secure employment,” he said.

Akerly said the state risks tens of millions of dollars in federal penalties if it doesn’t do a better job helping people on welfare find employment.

Some advocacy groups say the state can’t really make a dent in the problem without spending more money to help people find and keep jobs.

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