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Seven Local Recipients Earn Vehicles from ‘Way to Work’ Program

Published: 4/23/2024

Poughkeepsie … Kiyon works each day to balance work and family. Due to his lack of reliable transportation, though, he often misses opportunities for advancement at his workplace. Just as importantly, having insufficient personal transportation has also limited his quality time with family.

Kiyon needed a hand up to improve his career progress at his job and spend more time with his children. He, and six other Dutchess County residents, got that hand up today.

Kiyon was one of seven recipients who completed the “Way to Work” employment empowerment program – a partnership between Dutchess County’s Department of Community & Family Services (DCFS) and the Dutchess County Workforce Investment Board (DCWIB) that assists residents receiving, or eligible to receive, public assistance address their transportation challenges. The program participants earned a gently used vehicle to help them obtain and retain employment; acquire jobs with more hours or higher pay; gain access to higher education; increase their wage potential or take their children to and from school. In addition to Kiyon, today’s recipients included several single mothers, as well as a local young woman about to age out of the foster care system.

Dutchess County Executive Sue Serino, who presented each recipient with the keys to their vehicle, said, “For parents to be successful and raise healthy families, reliable transportation is key – whether it’s to get to and from work, to take their children to medical appointments or to other school or family commitments. Each of today’s seven recipients have earned the vehicle they’ll drive away in. They have each invested time and effort to the commitment of making a better life for their families and themselves. Dutchess County is proud to give these families an opportunity to flourish.”

Established in 2001, the program, formerly known as “Wheels to Work,” is designed to help low-income Dutchess County residents get and keep a job, providing them reliable transportation to and from work. Qualified participants must come from a family that receives TANF or whose family income is less than 200 percent of the poverty level.

“Way to Work” is dedicated to empowering program participants with transportation solutions. Program recipients are chosen based on their work-related need for transportation, have a temporary need of assistance and other specific program guidelines. In addition, they must display the perseverance and the commitment necessary to take steps towards financial independence. The program offers various components, including connections to public transit options, financial literacy and car care literacy seminars, a financial bootcamp workshop, a credit score workshop, vehicle registration services and vehicle insurance services.

DCFS’s approach to help transition residents to work and off TANF is a multi-faceted one that includes work skills training, daycare subsidies for eligible families, and the "Way to Work" program provided under contract by the DCWIB. “Way to Work” provides vehicles from local used car dealers to eligible individuals and provides participants training – such as car care and defensive driving – as well as assistance in obtaining a learner’s permit or driver’s license.

The recipients who earned vehicles today were chosen based on specific program guidelines, including their work-related need for transportation. In addition, they have all displayed the perseverance and commitment necessary to continually move forward toward financial independence. For every family that earns a car and no longer needs temporary assistance, Dutchess County saves $1,614 a month. Within a year, that savings equals the cost of a used car. Since the program’s inception, 90 percent of vehicle recipients have remained independent from temporary assistance.

DCFS Commissioner Sabrina Jaar Marzouka said, “Dutchess County residents who are looking for a better life – and who commit to making it a reality – have found success through ‘Way to Work’ for more than 20 years. Our department is so proud of the program and the families it has empowered, as they’re examples of the lives DFCS enhances each day.” 

The program has benefited more than 3,500 families since 2001, providing 927 cars, along with registration and car insurance deposits. Additionally, 318 County residents have gained their New York State learner’s permit; 1,082 people participated in driving experience classes; 523 individuals completed the five-hour, pre-licensing class; 497 passed their state road test and earned a driver’s license; and 776 vehicle repairs were approved on behalf of program participants.

DCWIB Executive Director Louise McLoughlin said, “Building on more than two decades of success, ‘Way to Work’ continues to connect participants willing to commit to the program and take the steps necessary to become successful. The Workforce Investment Board is proud of our partnership with Dutchess County, providing reliable transportation to residents seeking self-sufficiency, and we’re eager to see the program continue to make a real impact on so many lives.”

An informational brochure about “Way to Work,” including eligibility criteria and requirements for each component of the program, is available on the DCWIB website. Potential applicants can also email for more details.