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work supports

“Moving Low-Skill SNAP Recipients Toward Self-Sufficiency,” a publication from the National Skills Coalition, is designed to help the workforce field better understand Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment & Training (SNAP E&T, formerly the Food Stamp Employment & Training or FSET program).

First established in 1985, SNAP E&T is one of the few federally-supported programs specifically designed to provide employment and training services to extremely low-skilled, low-income adults. Each state is required to operate a SNAP E&T program, though they have considerable discretion in the types of services that may be offered (including job search assistance, work experience, and job training) and the types of SNAP participants to be served.

In recent years, a number of states have begun to recognize the value of SNAP E&T in connecting SNAP recipients with meaningful education and training opportunities leading to industry-recognized degrees and credentials with value in the labor market. States have used SNAP E&T funds to support innovative partnerships with community colleges, community-based organizations and other stakeholders, and have successfully used SNAP E&T funding to leverage additional non-federal public and private resources. However, many states and workforce system partners remain confused about who may be served, and what services can be provided, which has likely limited the growth of SNAP E&T programs on a national level.

By offering a basic overview of the program and highlighting certain issues that are important to consider when designing or implementing an E&T component, this guide is meant to help begin addressing some of these issues for the field. It provides an introduction to the administrative structures, participant eligibility requirements, and funding mechanisms under SNAP E&T, as well as an overview of key program elements that can help ensure SNAP recipients are receiving the full range of training and supportive services necessary for success in the labor market. The guide also highlights examples of how states are using SNAP E&T to help low-skilled individuals find jobs in high-demand industries, and addresses unique issues facing partnerships between state agencies and community colleges. The goal of this publication is to help ensure that SNAP participants have access to high-quality employment and training services that help them gain the necessary skills to obtain stable, family-supporting employment.

2012
National Skills Coalition

Amidst the worst downturn since the Great Depression, Congress included the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund in the 2009 Recovery Act to help states cover the costs of providing more assistance to low-income families suffering from the ill effects of the downturn.  The Fund provided $5 billion over two years for increased state or federal TANF spending in three categories of aid to TANF-eligible families with children:  (1) basic assistance, (2) non-recurrent, short-term (or emergency) benefits, and (3) subsidized employment. 

The fund expired on September 30, 2010.  Some 39 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and eight Tribal TANF programs received approval to use $1.3 billion from the fund to create new subsidized employment programs or expand existing ones.  The remaining $3.7 billion in the fund was approved to cover increased costs associated with providing basic assistance and non-recurrent, short-term benefits, such as assistance to avoid eviction and potential homelessness.  

This paper presents the results of a telephone survey of the subsidized employment programs funded all or in part with funds from the TANF EF, conducted by staff from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) during the summer and fall of 2010. 

The paper concludes by highlighting the following lessons that can be drawn from states’ experiences:

  • It is possible (though challenging) to get large-scale, countercyclical job creation programs up and running relatively quickly and to engage the private sector in creating job opportunities.
  • Subsidized jobs targeted to disadvantaged individuals benefit not only participating workers and businesses but also entire communities and society at large.
  • Flexibility makes success possible in many different environments.
  • New targeted funding can provide the catalyst for innovation and increased collaboration.
  • Subsidized employment programs can be implemented at reasonable cost.
  • Subsidized employment programs serve a variety of purposes; their performance should be judged on measures that are consistent with their purpose.
2011
LaDonna Pavetti, Ph.D., Liz Schott and Elizabeth Lower-Basch
Center on Budget Policies and Priorities; Center on Law and Social Policy

Many full-time workers in the United States are unable to make ends meet. Government “work support” policies – benefit programs such as earned income tax credits, public health insurance, child care assistance, and SNAP/food stamps – can help some families close the gap between low earnings and the high cost of basic expenses. While federal government guidelines provide a framework for work support policies in the United States, there is wide variation in how these policies are implemented across states.

This report analyzes the effectiveness of these policies. Findings from this report show that the current patchwork of state policies fails to ensure that workers are able to afford their families’ basic living expenses, leaving a number of low-wage workers and their families without adequate support. A greater federal investment is needed to create a comprehensive work support system that is designed to encourage and reward employment as well as provide workers with enough resources to care for their families. Federal priorities should include addressing the high cost of basic needs with an increased investment in affordable child care, subsidized health insurance, and housing assistance as well as structuring the work support system to better support workers’ advancement toward financial self-sufficiency.

2010
Jessica Purmort
National Center for Children in Poverty, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

Virtually all states have made basic program information on the five main state-administered low-income benefit programs — SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps), Medicaid, CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and child care assistance — available to the public via the Internet. Many states, however, go much further, providing information such as application forms and data on the number of participants. A number of states allow individuals to apply for benefits and transact certain related business online. In addition to information provided for the five main state-administered low-income benefit programs, thirty states have General Assistance (GA) programs for individuals not qualifying for any other public assistance, and provide basic program information for GA online as well.

This paper provides links to state information available online for these benefit programs. Individuals seeking information about eligibility and benefits in a particular state will find these links a useful place to start. Most state human service agencies also provide phone numbers for families to seek additional information. In addition, individuals in most states (as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) can call 2-1-1 on any type of telephone for help finding out about many kinds of assistance, including emergency help with food, housing, or clothing, physical or mental health treatment, and assistance for the aged, people with disabilities, and families with children.

2011
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Available financial aid covers only a fraction of what community college students pay for their education.  To finance their studies, many of them enroll in school only part time and/or work more than 20 hours per week, strategies that increase their likelihood of dropping out. To help address this problem, this report highlights strategies adopted by higher education institutions to increase the financial resources of their students. The practices outlined either help students access existing financial aid or provide students with new types of aid. 

PROPOSALS OUTLINED:

  • Helping students access available financial aid by providing one-on-one assistance with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid; mandating that students meet with academic and financial aid counselors; and, implementing student-centered financial aid administration practices.
  • Allocating institutional grants on the basis of need so that students can meet their financial obligations, work less, and focus more on their studies.
  • Developing emergency aid programs that have flexible eligibility criteria, simple application and approval processes, are advertised widely and link students to other financial services.
  • Easing the cost of transportation for students by negotiating discounts with public transportation systems and offering transportation subsidies.
  • Centralizing access to other forms of financial support. Given the income and demographic characteristics of community college students, a substantive number of them may be eligible for federal and state benefit programs (such as food stamps, tax credits, etc) that could help them obtain the financial resources they need to stay in school. Some community colleges help students access this aid by creating a “one-stop shop” on campus for all benefits.
  • Helping students access health insurance by creating consortiums among colleges to purchase affordable and comprehensive health insurance for students; incorporating the cost of health insurance in total expenses for uninsured students; and creating student health centers on campus.
2011
Viany Orozco & Lucy Mayo
Demos

In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act increased vital resources such as food stamps, unemployment insurance, and housing subsidies available to low-income families struggling through the recession. But not all families were able to gain access to and receive the benefits for which they were eligible. This report suggests that there is a need for funders, states, communities and the federal government to create more programs that low-income families can access.

2010
Shelley Waters Boots
The Ford Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The brief discusses the central role that states play in the delivery of work supports to low-income working families and how policies can be changed to not only increase access to these supports, but to also foster economic family stability and asset building.

 

 

 

 

2011
John Quinterno
Working Poor Families Project, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Mott Foundation