AFFILIATE SPOTLIGHT: New Hampshire Welfare Administrators Association
The information contained in this article is not intended as legal advice and may no longer be accurate due to changes in the law. Consult NHMA's legal services or your municipal attorney.
The Affiliate Group Spotlight is a new column designed to give readers a closer look at NHMA’s Affiliate Groups. There are over 30 such groups affiliated with NHMA comprised primarily of municipal officials, usually professional organizations, serving a particular position, such as city and town clerks, assessors, health officers, road agents, etc. In this issue, we introduce and spotlight the New Hampshire Welfare Administrators Association.
The mission of the New Hampshire Local Welfare Administrators’ Association (NHLWAA) is to provide and maintain support to its membership through leadership and education to assure the uniform, humane, equitable and ethical administration of RSA 165 – municipal assistance.
The NHLWAA instills an empathic and empowering approach in providing assistance to those in need. The needs of those requesting assistance shall be met in the most beneficial and cost-efficient manner possible, while respecting the confidentiality of the applicants. This is accomplished through fair and uniform application of the law and guidelines, while providing support and direction in necessary life skills for applicants by trained and educated welfare administrators.
History of Local Welfare:
“Whenever a person in any town is poor and unable to support himself, he shall be relieved and maintained by the overseers of public welfare of such town, whether or not he has residence there.” –RSA 165, Aid to Assisted Person. This statute has been for over 200 years. Each New Hampshire municipality is required to provide general assistance under this statute and develop and adopt guidelines to administer said assistance per RSA 165:1(II).
New Hampshire municipalities are legally required to provide funding for local welfare assistance to their residents. Our biggest challenge in meeting the needs of our municipal members are providing them knowledge of general uniform applications and practices that abide by state law and their municipality’s guidelines.
The NHMA and NHLWAA have worked in collaboration to publish for members “Model Welfare Guidelines” to provide some standards and guidelines. NHLWAA is currently working on updating its’ adopted “Ethics Resolution of Responsibility for Person Who Change Their Residence While, or as a Result of, Apply for Local Welfare.”
NHLWAA has an Executive Board of fourteen members voted in by the general membership who meet regularly at NHMA offices. We have committees covering training, legislative, technology and other ad hoc committees as needed.
Partnership with NHMA:
We have a close working collaboration with NHMA as an Affiliate Group in which they provide meeting rooms and legal and legislative support. We collaborate on an annual training in June to provide a basic training called the “Art of Welfare” with some in-depth training for more seasoned welfare officials. NHLWAA provides sessions for the NHMA November Conference.
Membership and Benefits:
NHLWAA provides trainings and education in September, February and April for NHLWAA members at a discounted rate of $15 and for nonmembers at $30. Our membership is based on population size ranging from $50 to $30 per municipality based on a July to June fiscal year. Currently we have 192 members from 146 municipalities from across New Hampshire.
NHLWAA members receive communication about trainings, legislative news, social service updates and other information that may affect municipalities and their assistance requirements. Most members relate that NHLWAA provides a supportive resource and network due to its’ unique municipal function.
The NHLWAA initially funded and contracted with developers to create NH GAP (General Assistance Program), a web-based program to aid in the delivery of general assistance. More information about this software can be found at our website. If you would like more information about NHLWAA and how to become a member, please refer to our website at www.nhlwaa.org.
Photo of NHWWA's Executive Board
(NHWWA’s Executive Board; Front row sitting left to right: Charleen Michaud, Vice President; Pat Murphy, President; Liz Sayre, Secretary; Bob Mack, Past President. Back row standing left to right: Todd Marsh, Dana Brien, Jill Jamro, Marilyn Ceriello Bresaw, Lena Nichols, Denise Greig, Ellen Tully and Karen Emis-Williams. Executive Board members not in picture: Sue Benoit, Treasurer and Suzanne Carr).