The Florida Department of Children and Families waived work requirements for two assistance programs providing food and shelter.
Following passage of Families First Coronavirus Act, Gov. Ron DeSantis requested work requirements be set aside to allow more participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
Helen Aguirre Ferré announced the move on Twitter early Tuesday.
SNAP provides monthly supplements to families to purchase nutritious foods. Recipients ages 16 to 59 are typically required to register for work, participate in SNAP training and enforcement, take a suitable job if offered and not reduce work hours to less than 20 hours a week.
The state also normally has work requirements in place for individuals benefitting from TANF. Those vary by situation. For example, a single parent is required to work at least 30 hours a week while a couple receiving no child care subsidy must work a combined 35 hours a week between both parents.
But as the state Department of Economic Opportunity reports record unemployment applications amid a global COVID-19 pandemic, DeSantis’ office prioritized getting assistance to individuals.
Many workers have been asked to work from home to limit community spread of COVID-19. With a number of businesses unable to operate normally right now, challenges exist for those seeking jobs at the moment as well.
With widespread restrictions on nonessential businesses, some workers have lost their jobs already.
Meanwhile, Florida has seen a significant uptick in positive coronavirus cases in just a few weeks.
The most recent data from the Department of Health shows 1,227 known positive cases in Florida, including 17 deaths. The state is continuing to monitor another 1,237 individuals.
The first case of coronavirus detected in the state became public just on March 1.
The Florida Legislature last week passed an annual budget that included $52 million for fighting COVID-19. Including reserves, the budget dedicated $300 million for the coronavirus pandemic.