Current Changes to the Rhode Island Welfare Programs: Revealing Obstacles to Successful Work for a Substance Abuse and Family Services Program

Melanie Brooke Sharot, Providence College

Type Article

A project based on independent investigation, submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. Originally written for the Theory Practice Seminar, Providence College, 2009.


In hopes of reducing the state budget deficit, the Governor of Rhode Island recently implemented the Works First program to encourage employment over welfare dependency. Under the implication of this new welfare program, families are limited to receiving cash assistance for a total of 24 months. There are a number of supportive agencies that provide a multitude of services for families who are affected by substance abuse and poverty in Rhode Island. The majority of the clients served by such organizations has or will experience termination from public cash assistance as a result of the new program. In order to effectively prepare for this imminent loss of income, it is crucial that service providers are fully knowledgeable about how the Rhode Island Works program will affect their clients. A presentation about the Rhode Island Works First program was delivered to the direct service providers that provide case management services to families affected by substance abuse. Participants (n=14), completed a pretest and posttest assessing their knowledge of the Works First Program. Statistical results offered evidence that the presentation was not significantly effective in conveying necessary information. In addition, the findings indicated that the workers value their own education about new policies that directly affect clients as fundamental aspects of “best practice.” More needs to be done to educate social workers about pertinent policies in order for social workers to be additionally competent as advocates for societies’ most vulnerable citizens.