No one shows at hearing for Maine welfare-to-work program changes

No one turned out Wednesday in Augusta to discuss rule changes proposed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services for a welfare-to-work program that the state is moving toward privatizing.

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew said the proposed rule changes have little or nothing to do with the state’s move to have a private contractor take over administration of the ASPIRE program, according to television reporters who spoke with her Wednesday. However, DHHS and the LePage administration have not responded to questions from the Bangor Daily News on the topic this week.

ASPIRE helps welfare recipients in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program access training, jobs and volunteer opportunities. The state is moving toward approval of a $62.5 million contract with Fedcap Rehabilitation Services of New York to take over the program. Mayhew said the new contract would improve program services. 

The rules proposed by DHHS are contained in a 149-page document. Though no one spoke at the public hearing on the proposals Wednesday in Augusta, DHHS is taking written comments until Sept. 26 at noon. 

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.