PRIDE sought to move cash assistance recipients with severe mental and physical health challenges into employment by providing integrated health and employment training services as well as help securing and maintaining employment.
Participants received a medical evaluation and were assigned to PRIDE if they were deemed not healthy enough to participate in standard welfare-to-work programs, but too healthy to claim federal disability benefits. After an initial assessment by PRIDE staff, a participant was assigned to either a work-based education (WBE) or vocational rehabilitation (VR) track. The WBE track consisted of three days of unpaid work experience and two days of classroom-based adult basic education per week for a total of 35 hours of WBE activities per week over six months. The VR track consisted of at least 25 hours per week of activities over six months, during which time participants would make an individual plan for employment, participate in an unpaid work experience, and take part in group job readiness exercises.
Participants could have an additional six months of WBE or VR track activities if they did not secure employment after the first six months. All PRIDE participants received job search and job placement assistance and faced reductions in benefit payments as a sanction for noncompliance. PRIDE staff checked in with employed participants for the first six months after they finished the program to verify their continued employment.
PRIDE operated from 1998 to 2004; the Wellness, Comprehensive Assessment Rehabilitation and Employment (WeCARE) program replaced PRIDE in 2004 and, as of 2020, continues to offer similar services to eligible participants referred to the program. PRIDE focused on recipients of New York’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and locally funded cash assistance programs who requested a medical exemption from welfare-to-work programs because of severe mental and physical health challenges. PRIDE was implemented in New York City.