State welfare program to be run by out-of-state company

The Department of Health and Human Services says it will be contracting out one of its welfare employment programs. (WGME)

AUGUSTA (WGME) -- A state welfare program will soon be run by a company out of state.

The Department of Health and Human Services says it will be contracting out one of its welfare employment programs.

The Maine State Employee Association says 51 state employees will lose their jobs thanks to the state’s decision to contract the welfare employment program aspire out of state.

Ramona Welton with the Maine State Employees Association says she's disappointed with the state’s decision to privatize the welfare employment program "ASPIRE."

“We'll have less local control we don't have direct control on what a contractor subcontracts,” Welton said.

The Department of Health and Human Services says the New York-based nonprofit "FEDCAP" will now be in charge of helping residents on welfare find jobs instead of the state.

According to the Maine State Employees Association, it’s a loss of 81 state positions, which translates to 51 people.

DHHS declined to give details on the decision, but did release a statement.

"The changes will create a more streamlined system to help families, provide one-on-one assistance and allow them to find employment more effectively and efficiently."

Christine Hastedt of Maine Equal Justice Partners fears an out of state company won't be able to follow through with Mainers.

“I think that we can always do a better job about providing those things, but the solution cannot be a one size fits all solution, it needs to address the individualized needs of these families,” Hastedt said. “And make sure they get the services they need to be successful in employment and get out of poverty.”

She and Welton hope when FEDCAP does take control they'll hire some of the state workers who will lose their jobs.

“If there are positions and there are services the citizens in the state of Maine need, these are skilled workers they have done this for years, let’s keep them working,” Welton said.

CBS 13 reached out to DHHS about this. They say they will not be commenting while the contract while it is still being finalized.

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