Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Thursday, May 24, 2001
Release # 169 - 01

Contact: Sunny Mindel/ Lynn Rasic
View Mayor's
Press Conference
  Debra Sproles (HRA) 212-331-6200


Will More than Quadruple Number of Families Served in Innovative Substance Abuse Program
for Welfare Recipients and Add Additional Site

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today, joined by Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Chairman and President of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, announced that the City of New York has committed up to $9 million to enlarge CASAWORKS For Families (CASAWORKS) - a national innovative substance abuse prevention program for families on welfare created by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA). New York City will be the first location in the national program to expand CASAWORKS and open a second site.

The expanded program in New York City, which will receive funding for three years, will serve more than 400 women with substance abuse problems, and also provide support services to their children and families.

CASAWORKS For Families, one of the many initiatives funded by the City to help substance abusers move toward abstinence, is the first national demonstration program for women on welfare with substance abuse problems, to provide in one concentrated course, drug and alcohol treatment; literacy, job, parenting and social skills training; family violence prevention and health care. This approach aims to enable these women to become self-sufficient, responsible parents and productive workers. CASAWORKS operates at sites in 11 cities in 9 states, including California, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Also joining the Mayor for the announcement were Deputy Mayor for Education, Planning, and Cultural Affairs Anthony P. Coles and Human Resources Administration (HRA) Commissioner Jason Turner.

"Since the program began in 1998, CASAWORKS has provided the services and support that women on welfare with drug and alcohol problems need to become responsible parents and enjoy the self-esteem that comes from being self-sufficient," Mayor Giuliani said. "The City is pleased to be the first City to expand this ground-breaking demonstration program. The expanded program will more than quadruple the number of women served, create an additional site, and add comprehensive services for children and other family members."

More than 70 women receiving welfare participated in the first phase of the New York City program. Working with the Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDCO) in the Bronx, the participants showed a more dramatic increase in sobriety than the national average. The program results thus far show that 77% of the participants were abstinent from alcohol; 99% were abstinent from cocaine; and 89% were abstinent from marijuana.

"For each unemployed substance-abusing woman on welfare who becomes self-supporting and actively engaged in recovery, the annual benefit to society is about $48,000 per year," said Joseph A. Califano, Jr.,CASA President and former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. "Becoming sober and responsible adults and effective parents also is of paramount importance to the children of these women. In the early phase of the program we learned the importance of providing comprehensive services to children as well as mothers, and we are delighted that the City has agreed to support this new component of CASAWORKS for Families."

"The expanded CASAWORKS program will allow us to move many more people from substance abuse dependency to self-sufficiency. This program is possible because the welfare caseload in New York City has declined by more than half under Mayor Giuliani," Commissioner Turner said. "The funds made available from the City's reduction in welfare costs are being used for intensive services such as this for the remaining caseload."

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University is the only national organization that brings together under one roof all the professional disciplines needed to study and combat all types of substance abuse as they affect all aspects of society. With a staff of 70 professionals, CASA has demonstration projects in 43 sites in 29 cities and 19 states focused on children, families and schools, and has been testing the effectiveness of drug and alcohol treatment, monitoring 15,000 individuals in more than 200 programs and five drug courts in 26 states.

New York City spends more than $800 million a year on substance abuse and alcoholism treatment.

Since Mayor Giuliani began his welfare reform program in 1995, New York City's welfare rolls have fallen to their lowest level since August 1966. The total number of persons who received cash assistance in April 2001 was 512,031. This is a net reduction of 648,562, or 55.9%, from the 1,160,593 who were on rolls in March 1995 when the City began its welfare reform program.

The National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse estimates that about 20% of the individuals currently on public assistance have a substance abuse problem.