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Suffolk Works Employment Program (SWEP)

The Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 was enacted as part of a national effort to end the federal guarantee of cash assistance for welfare recipients.

It gives the States vast new authority to administer their own public assistance programs and provides funds under block grants for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). TANF is the successor to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.

  • To provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for;
  • To end the dependence of needy families on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work and marriage;
  • Prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establish annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies;
  • Encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

To assist clients with young children, the Public Assistance Unit works very closely with the Suffolk Child Care Council in finding suitable childcare. This enables individuals to participate in work or training programs – with the ultimate goal of employment.

In addition to TANF, New York State provides public assistance benefits to needy single individuals and couples without children. These benefits are provided under the SAFETY NET program (formerly known as Home Relief).


The basic outline of Suffolk Works is as follows

  • A Social Services applicant is immediately referred to the Suffolk Works Employment Program as part of their application process. The individual is then required to attend a program orientation.
  • Individuals may then be assigned appropriate work experience activities including: Job Readiness Training, Job Search, Community Service and Work Experience, and may begin a period of Supervised Job Search in which many find employment before their public assistance case is even opened.
  • SWEP counselors stress that the job an individual finds may not be the last job or best job they will hold but will allow them to establish recent work history, while promoting good work habits and providing a first step toward a career goal.
  • For those who do not find immediate employment, the next service to be provided is based on the individual’s assessment and employability plan. Work Experience and short term educational and vocational training courses and job placement assistance are the primary services offered.

Several hundred participating worksites throughout Suffolk County offer a diversity of work environments and disciplines that provide individuals with valuable work experience and a developing work history. State, County, Town, local governmental and various not-for-profit agencies join in the partnership effort to help enhance our customers’ employment-related work experience.

Positions are offered as clerical aides, community services aides, food-service aides and maintenance or custodial aides. Participants who are job ready are referred for service at our Employment Center. There, agency staff assists in career counseling and job placement.

Work Experience participants may also be placed onto SCDOL work crews, which are supervised by a labor crew leader.

Job Readiness Training (JRT) helps overcome basic barriers to employment and covers topics such as public transportation usage, job interviewing skills and job retention skills. Following JRT, PA Applicants and Recipients may be assigned to Supervised Job Search (SJS) activity. While participating in SJS, clients weekly report the results of their job search activity.


Education and vocational training courses are offered to SWEP clients who have been assessed as in need of training to enhance their employability. Remedial education is available for those clients, who may lack a high school diploma, have limited language skills or who need basic job skills training.

If vocational training is determined appropriate, a network of training agencies stand ready to offer their services. This network is spread across our County so that our clients can attend a local site.

Included in this training network are Eastern Suffolk BOCES, Western Suffolk BOCES, Suffolk Community College, Long Island Education Opportunity Center, and numerous private vocational schools.

Training opportunities are designed to provide the entry into a career path in one of many diverse fields. Typically, this training occurs in health careers, business or office careers and the corporate technology field.


The Department also offers job search and employment placement assistance via our One-Stop Employment Center, located in Hauppauge and Riverhead.

In an effort to enhance interagency coordination and augment services to SWEP-TANF clients, New York State Department of Labor staff are co-located at the Suffolk County Department of Labor's Hauppauge offices.

Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901