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House passed TANF subsidized jobs bill

  ·   By Katie Spiker,
House passed TANF subsidized jobs bill

On June 23rd, the House passed the Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act (HR 2842) by vote of 377-34. The bill was introduced by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Danny Davis (D-IL), and would allocate $100 million under the current Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) contingency fund for demonstration grants to support subsidized jobs programs. At least one of the demonstration projects supported by the grants would need to fund registered apprenticeship programs, and the bill requires that fifteen percent of the overall funding be reserved for career pathways programs as defined by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

More than 80 percent of today’s jobs require postsecondary education and training, but less than 10 percent of adult TANF recipients have education beyond high school. Despite these barriers, less than 7 percent of combined federal and state TANF spending goes to work, education and training programs. 

Under current law, TANF funds can be used by states to subsidize TANF recipient’s wages; however less than 1 percent of total TANF spending is used on subsidized jobs programs. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) also provided an additional $5 billion in funding to supplement states’ TANF spending on subsidized jobs, though that funding expired after Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. These programs can be successful if they connect participants to training and upskilling opportunities, like those available in apprenticeship programs and when built into career pathways programs.

The bill is consistent with NSC’s recommendations for TANF reauthorization,  including recognizing the importance of investing in training opportunities for TANF recipients, a population and an activity drastically underfunded in the current TANF system. In addition to targeting existing funding, Congress should increase TANF funding to keep pace with historic levels of investment and dedicate new resources for proven strategies like industry partnerships and career pathways.

Posted In: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Trump FY 2018 Budget Slashes Funding for Key Workforce, Education, Human Services Programs

This morning, the Trump Administration released the President’s detailed budget proposals for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, calling for dramatic cuts to a range of federal programs, including steep reductions in funding for key workforce, education, and human services programs. While the proposed cuts were not unexpected – the Administration had released a so-called “skinny” budget in March that highlighted topline cuts to many agency budgets – the budget documents released today provide more specific information about the Administration’s policy priorities.

Though Congress is not expected to adopt all of the President’s proposals, the budget sets an unfortunate baseline for policymakers as they begin the FY 2018 budget and appropriations process. The budget includes a range of recommendations for reducing federal support for means-tested public assistance programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which could be included to offset tax cuts as part of a budget reconciliation package later this year. Appropriators will also be under pressure to provide some cuts to discretionary programs, including training services authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act, despite the strong bipartisan support for these critical programs.

Department of Labor. Overall, the President’s budget calls for $9.6 billion in funding for DOL, a cut of $2.5 billion (21 percent) relative to the levels under the FY 2017 omnibus. The budget calls for significant reductions in funding for key workforce programs under WIOA, which was reauthorized by Congress in 2014. The budget calls for cuts of approximately $1 billion from the three state formula grants under Title I of WIOA, cutting WIOA Adult from $816 million to $490 million, Dislocated Worker state grants from just over $1 billion to $615 million, and reducing youth grants from $873 million to $416 million. Overall, the formula grant cuts represent about a 40 percent reduction from current funding levels, which would have devastating impacts on states and local communities seeking to address the skill needs of businesses and jobseekers.

The budget also proposes eliminating several national programs administered by DOL, including the Workforce Data Quality initiative that provides states with funding to strengthen data systems; the migrant and seasonal farmworker grant program; and the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Dislocated Worker National Reserve grants are reduced by a little more than $100 million, and the budget proposes more modest reductions to a range of other national programs, including cuts of about $5 million for apprenticeship grants and $10 million for ex-offender grants. Wagner-Peyser Employment Services (ES) state grants under WIOA Title III would be cut by about $256 million, nearly 40 percent below current levels.

The budget proposes providing local workforce boards the ability to transfer up to 100 percent of funds allocated for adult programs to youth activities and 100 percent of funds allocated for youth activities to adult activities. It also would provide the Secretary of Labor the authority to waive administrative and reporting requirements, with the justification of improving efficiency and reducing administrative costs to local areas.

Department of Education. The Department of Education would be funded at $59 billion under the President’s budget, a cut of $9 billion (13 percent) relative to FY 2017 levels. The proposal would make significant cuts to a number of key programs that help low-income and other individuals obtain the skills necessary to compete in today’s workforce, including cuts of roughly $168 million for career and technical education state grants under the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act – a reduction of 15 percent against current funding; $96 million in cuts (or about 16 percent) to adult education state grants under WIOA Title II; and more than $500 million in cuts to the federal work-study program that can provide income support and work experience for lower-income college students. The budget proposes eliminating the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), which provides about $730 million in additional assistance to students with significant financial needs. 

The budget does include funding for the Pell Grant program, which provides financial aid to lower-income students, including funding to support “year-round Pell” awards that allow individuals to receive more than one grant in an academic year. Congress had restored year-round Pell in the FY 2017 omnibus appropriations package that was completed earlier this month. The budget would provide sufficient funding to support the maximum grant award at $5,920, but would rescind $3.9 billion in prior year funding, which may impact the financial stability of the program in future years.

Department of Agriculture. One of the most sweeping changes under the FY 2018 budget is the proposal to change programmatic requirements around SNAP, which provides vital food assistance to more than 40 million Americans. The budget calls for reducing overall spending on SNAP and other federal nutrition programs by $194 billion over ten years – a cut of about 25 percent – by, among other things, limiting the current waiver for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) to counties with unemployment exceeding ten percent, and other changes to restrict eligibility; eliminating the minimum SNAP benefit; and phasing in a state matching requirement over ten years, with states ultimately expected to provide a 25 percent match. The budget does not appear to propose changes to the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program, which some states use to connect participants with skills-based training programs at community colleges and community-based organizations. SNAP helps millions of people feed put food on their table while they’re in between jobs or trying to move up within their career. Without access to food assistance, it will be harder for unemployed people and low-wage workers to participate in training that leads to a family-supporting job. However, the proposed changes to eligibility will likely reduce access to needed benefits, as states are pressured to find work activities for more recipients with fewer resources.

Department of Health and Human Services. The budget proposes significant cuts to HHS programs that can help support employment and training while providing critical assistance to sustain engagement in work.

The budget would cut current funding levels for the TANF program by a combined $2.2 billion, reducing the federal block grant from $16.7 billion to $15.1 billion and eliminating the $608 million TANF Contingency Fund that is intended to assist states facing economic downturns. If enacted, the proposed cuts would reduce overall federal support for TANF by a combined $21.7 billion over the next decade. Given that the overall block grant has not been increased since TANF was passed in 1996, the proposed cuts would mean that its inflation-adjusted purchasing power would be more than 40 percent below original funding levels.

The budget also calls for elimination of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and related community services programs, a total of $769 million in cuts. Many states and local areas use CSBG funds to support training and related activities that help residents of low-income communities connect to employment.

National Skills Coalition strongly opposes the unnecessary and drastic cuts in the President’s budget proposal. At a time when millions of U.S. workers are seeking the skills and credentials to get and keep family-supporting jobs – and when U.S. businesses are struggling to find qualified individuals to keep up with demand – such significant reductions in federal workforce, education, and human services programs will make our nation less competitive in the global economy. NSC calls on Congress to reject the President’s proposals and to ensure that we continue our bipartisan commitment to investments in skills.   

 

FY 2018 – Authorized Levels

FY 2017 Omnibus

FY 2018 President’s Budget

Change FY 2017-2018

Department of Labor

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants[1]

$3,078,720,000

$2,709,832,000

$1,629,522,000

-$1,080,310,000

WIOA Adult

$861,060,000

$815,556,000

$490,370,000

-$325,186,000

WIOA Dislocated Worker[2]

$1,374,019,000

$1,080,860,000

$615,485,000

-$465,375,000

WIOA Youth

$922,148,000

873,416,000

$523,667,000

-$349,749,000

Wagner-Peyser/Employment Service Grants

NA

 

$671,413,000

$416,000,000

-$255,413,000

Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants

NA

$6,000,000

$0

-$6,000,000

Apprenticeship Grants

NA

$95,000,000

$89,829,000

-$5,171,000

DW National Reserve

 

$220,859,000

$117,000,000

-$103,859,000

Native American Programs

$51,795,000

$50,000,000

$49,905,000

-$95,000

Ex-Offender Activities

NA

$88,078,000

$77,911,000

-$10,167,000

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers

$92,050,000

$81,896,000

$0

-$81,896,000

Youth Build

$87,147,000

$84,534,000

$84,373,000

-$161,000

Senior Community Service Employment Program

$454,499,494

$433, 535,000

$0

-$433, 535,000

Department of Education

Career and Technical Education State Grants

NA

$1,117,598,000

$950,000,000

-$167,598,000

Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants

$649,287,000

$581,955,000

$485,849,000

-$96,106,000

Federal Work Study

NA

$1,093,997,000

$553,728,000

-$540,269,000

 

Posted In: Federal Funding, Career and Technical Education, SNAP Employment and Training, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

NSC releases TANF reauthorization recommendations

  ·   By Kermit Kaleba
NSC releases TANF reauthorization recommendations

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is one of the nation’s most important poverty reduction programs, but twenty years after its original passage it is clear that the law needs to be strengthened to align with the demands of the 21st century economy. With Congress potentially considering a major reauthorization in the coming year, National Skills Coalition has worked with our state and local partners to develop updated recommendations for how TANF can be redesigned to ensure recipients can access the skills and credentials they need to get and keep family-supporting jobs.

Specifically, National Skills Coalition recommends:

  • Providing states with the flexibility to measure outcomes rather than processes. Under current law, states are responsible for ensuring that a certain percentage of TANF recipients are engaged in work activities, but have limited incentives to make sure that those work activities lead to sustainable career pathways. States should be permitted to transition away from the administrative burdens of tracking work participation and instead be allowed to focus on designing strategies that support better employment and earnings outcomes.
     
  • Lifting restrictions on education and training. Current law places significant barriers on participation in education and training activities that can help TANF recipients get connected to better-paying jobs. Congress should lift these restrictions, and make it easier for state and local TANF programs to engage TANF recipients in high-quality training while investing in post-employment services to sustain work transitions.
     
  • Invest in proven workforce strategies. Sector partnerships and career pathway strategies are recognized best practices for improving employment and earnings outcomes for low-skilled workers, but TANF provides limited support for investments in innovative workforce models. Congress should provide dedicated funding for states and local programs to support the development of these strategies, while encouraging greater collaboration across workforce and education programs to ensure that TANF recipients are able to access the fullest possible range of services.
     
  • Increase funding for the TANF block grant. Congress has not increased funding levels for the basic state block grant since the law was originally passed in 1996. Adjusted for inflation, this amounts to an effective cut of more than 30 percent over the last twenty years. Congress should bring funding in line with historic levels to ensure that TANF continues to provide meaningful support for low-income individuals.
     
  • Ensure TANF funds are directed to TANF recipients. States have broad flexibility to use TANF dollars for various activities, and over time this has resulted in fewer services for TANF recipients; in Fiscal Year 2014, eight states spent less than a quarter of their combined TANF funds on core services like direct cash assistance or work activities. Congress should establish minimum expenditure requirements to ensure that states are actually investing in the success of TANF recipients.
     

While a long-term reauthorization of TANF is unlikely in 2016, the House Ways and Means Committee has been looking at updates to the law, releasing a discussion draft last summer and approving several smaller bills in May of this year. House Speaker Paul Ryan has signaled that welfare reform will be part of the House Republican policy agenda in 2017.

On the Senate side, Sen. Angus King (I-ME), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced bipartisan legislation in June, the “Enhancing and Modernizing Pathways to Opportunity, Work, Education, and Responsibility (EMPOWER) Act of 2016,” which reflects a number of NSC’s key recommendations to expand access to education and training for TANF recipients. The bill has not been considered by the Senate Finance Committee, but could serve as an important framework for reauthorization discussions as we head into next year. 

Posted In: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Senators introduce bipartisan TANF reauthorization bill, would expand access to education and training

On June 23, Senators Angus King (I-ME), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), , and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the bipartisan “Enhancing and Modernizing Pathways to Opportunity, Work, Education, and Responsibility (EMPOWER) Act of 2016,”  which will lift Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) training restrictions and will make it easier for TANF to align with other workforce programs.

The bill would reauthorize TANF for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 through FY 2021 and provide a number of important updates to the program. The bill would, among other things:

  • Explicitly include the encouragement of employment entry, retention, and advancement as one of the purposes of the TANF program;
     
  • Eliminates the “two-parent” work participation rate, which requires states to ensure that 90 percent of two-parent families are engaged in qualifying work activities, compared to the “all-families” rate of 50 percent;
     
  • Eliminate the financial penalty for a state failing to reach target work participation rates, replacing it with a requirement that a failing state increase its Maintenance of Effort (MOE) spending;
     
  • Similar to a proposal in the Obama Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget request, limits federal TANF expenditures to services for families at or below 200 percent of the poverty line;
     
  • Eliminate limits on so-called “non-core” work activities – including job skills training or education directly related to employment – that currently can be counted towards individual work participation requirements only after an individual has completed 20 hours of other work-related activities;
     
  • Allow states to receive partial credit for individuals working, but not meeting their full work requirements;
     
  • Similar to a proposal in the President’s FY 2017 Budget Request, require states to phase in increases in spending on TANF “core” activities (including cash assistance, child care services, and work-related activities), with states required to expend at least 60 percent of TANF funds on these activities by 2021;
     
  • Redefines “vocational educational training” to include post-secondary, vocational, or career and technical education, and extends the limit on participation in such activities from 12 to 36 months;
     
  • eliminates the age cap on secondary school attendance as a work activity, which is currently limited to individuals 19 and younger;
     
  • Require states to develop indicators and targets for former TANF beneficiaries, starting in FY 2019, including employment and earnings for adults leaving assistance. State performance would be published by the Department of Health and Human Services on an annual basis, though states would not be subject to financial penalties for failure to achieve performance rates.
     

The full text of the bill may be found here; a detailed section-by-section analysis is here. National Skills Coalition strongly supports the EMPOWER Act, which is consistent with NSC’s recommendations to expand access to education and training for TANF recipients.  We applaud Senators King, Ayotte, Brown, and Capito for their leadership on this issue, and we look forward to working with policymakers to advance the commonsense reforms outlined in this bill as part of a broader TANF reauthorization effort.

_________

Corrected to include link to updated summary 

 
Posted In: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Upcoming Ways and Means Committee markup on TANF bills

On Wednesday, May 11th, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing to mark up a package of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) bills. The package includes a variety of proposals to update TANF that represent a compromise solution after an earlier discussion draft of legislation, on which NSC submitted comments, drew significant criticism from conservative members. Read further analysis on the discussion draft in NSC’s blog post here.

While NSC is supportive of the Ways and Means committee taking common sense steps to improve TANF, these efforts fail to address ongoing challenges in states seeking to improve training opportunities for TANF recipients.

NSC encourages the committee to bring TANF in line with the realities of the 21st century economy, ensuring TANF recipients have access to high quality education and training services that are aligned to meet the needs of local and regional industries. National Skills Coalition, in partnership with the Center on Law and Social Policy and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, released a fact sheet detailing sources of potential alignment between TANF and WIOA-funded programs. 

Posted In: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Our biggest, most impactful Skills Summit yet!

  ·   By Nicky Lauricella Coolberth
Our biggest, most impactful Skills Summit yet!

From February 7-9, more than 270 workforce advocates, employers, and community college leaders from 29 states traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in NSC’s annual Skills Summit.

The purpose of the Skills Summit is for participants to bring their expertise on education, training, and skills to Capitol Hill; and to advocate for policies that ensure every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper. They did just that.

An Expanded Network

The 2016 Skills Summit saw the greatest number and diversity of organizations participating thanks to eight national networks that signed on as Skills Summit National Partners: Business Leaders UnitedCommission on Adult Basic EducationNational Youth Employment CoalitionNational Council of La RazaNational Council for Workforce EducationWorkforce Data Quality CampaignNational Fund for Workforce Solutions and Young Invincibles.

Action Oriented Learning to Advance a New Agenda

Summit attendees, including those from our National Partner networks, spent two days in plenary and concurrent sessions learning about the latest policy developments and opportunities across adult education, career and technical education, work-based learning, higher education, and more. These sessions prepared attendees to advance NSC’s new 2016 federal legislative agenda

Engaging Policymakers 

On Tuesday, Summit participants made over 200 visits with members of Congress and their staff, consulted with White House officials, and engaged with lawmakers on Twitter in record numbers. Participants asked their Senators and Representatives to endorse a bill, sponsor legislation, engage their colleagues, or take some other concrete step designed to advance our shared skills agenda in 2016. 

Prior to the impactful visits to Capitol Hill, on Monday, Summit attendees met with top Congressional and Administration officials. Keynote speaker Senator U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus addressed attendees about the importance of CTE and support for short-term training. Kaine introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act in the Senate - legislation that would amend the Higher Education Act by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term job training programs. Kaine told the crowd, “When the thing is right, the time is right.” On the eve of the hill visits, Kaine really fired everyone up to meet with their lawmakers to advance career and technical education policy along with our full range of workforce and education policy asks. 

Summit participants also met with agency leadership about federal implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act including Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary of the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor;  Nisha Patel, Director of the Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Cheryl Keenan, Director of  Adult Education and Literacy at the Office of Career Technical and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education.

Celebrating a Movement 

In addition to celebrating NSC’s 15th anniversary, we also honored a number of outstanding advocates at this year’s Skills Summit, including our Skills Champion – a coalition member whose exceptional organizing and advocacy efforts have moved the skills agenda forward in their state or in Washington D.C. NSC awarded the 2016 Skills Champion Award to Erick Ajax, Vice President and Co-Owner of E.J. Ajax and Sons and founding executive committee member of Business Leaders United, for his outstanding work to ensure our country’s policymakers invest, aggressively and effectively, in the skills of America’s workers. 

Jerry Rubin of the JVS Boston was awarded the Social Butterfly Award. The award recognizes people and organizations that engage key stakeholders and build awareness of policy and programmatic solutions for meeting the demand for skills on social media. With hundreds of followers on Twitter, Jerry Rubin/JVS Boston keeps them updated on the collaborative’ s efforts, pressing topics in the local community, and national developments on workforce issues.

The Ohio delegation was given the State of Action Award. Thanks to the persistent advocacy efforts of the Ohio delegation, the state is now home to several policies and practices that help elevate and move forward workforce development wins. Whether it was through administrative and legislative achievements the Ohio delegation made sure their state was involved in these award winning actions. 

The Taking Care of Business Award was given to Amy Lancaster, Director of Workforce Development/Public Policy at the Metro Atlanta Chamber. When it comes to engaging employers in workforce policy conversations, Amy takes care of business. Amy has been working with Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) to bring the employer voice into the workforce development policy discussion.

The Game Changer Award was given to Laura Rowley from Seattle Jobs Initiative for their work helping states use their SNAP employment and training programs to provide skill-building opportunities for participants.

Those Who Made it All Possible

A big thank you to the support of NSC’s funders – all of the policy analysis that occurs in the months before the Summit and helps us to ensure a rich experience for participants would not be possible without their continued support of NSC. Additional thanks belong to our 2016 Skills Summit sponsors: JPMorgan Chase & Co., Siemens FoundationUSA Funds, and WKF Giving Fund.

Looking Ahead to 2017!

We are already planning next year’s summit! The 2017 Skills Summit will be held February 5-7, 2017 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel. If you would like to attend next year’s event, please contact Ashley Shaw.

Visit our Flickr page to see photos from the 2016 Skills Summit. All of the materials from the Skills Summit are located on our website.  

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Federal Funding, Higher Education Access, Immigration, Career and Technical Education, Sector Partnerships, SNAP Employment and Training, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
National Skills Coalition hosts annual state workforce advocates meeting

On September 24-25, workforce advocates from 12 states gathered in Columbus, Ohio for an annual meeting hosted by National Skills Coalition. There was also representation from two national partners, the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).  During the two-day meeting, participants discussed policy solutions they could use to address a variety of issues facing workers and employers back in their states, such as state policies to support sector partnerships and career pathways, and state investments in training for good jobs. They also discussed opportunities to advocate for these policies by participating in WIOA planning and implementation and working with state officials and agency leaders. 

Through the meeting’s cross-state sharing sessions, interactive panels, and facilitated dialogues, participants were able to get advice and swap stories from the trenches with their peers. 

During panel discussions, Steve Hertzenberg of the Keystone Research Center in PA and Jessica Fraser of the Indiana Institute for Working Families shared lessons learned from advocating for sector partnership policies in their states. 21 states currently have policies to support local sector partnerships, and as such, are positioned to help local communities meet the needs of both workers and employers in key industries, according to NSC’s recent report, Skills in the States: Sector Partnership Policy, a first-ever 50-state scan. NSC will be releasing a toolkit to guide states that are looking to build local sector partnership policies or strengthen already existing ones.

Frank Waterous of the Bell Policy Center in Colorado and Alysia Ordway of Strategy Matters in Massachusetts discussed opportunities to advance career pathways. Group discussions that followed these panels underscored sustainable funding, coordination across education and training agencies, and good data systems as critical elements of policies to support sector partnerships and career pathways.

Meeting participants also discussed ways to use WIOA state planning and implementation to promote skills strategies and access to training for individuals with barriers to work. They discussed opportunities to align programs such as adult education, occupational training, and TANF and SNAP employment and training services under WIOA. They also highlighted the need to improve training participants’ access to support services like child care and financial counseling.  Advocates identified opportunities to weigh in during their state’s planning and implementation process including:

  • Participating in public planning sessions and state workforce board meetings
  • Reviewing and providing feedback on draft state plans, policies, and technical guidance
  • Asking state workforce boards to report on implementation of state plans


A special thanks to the United Way of Central Ohio and all of our partners in attendance for making this meeting possible! NSC looks forward to continuing our work with state coalitions and providing support for advancing their policy agendas in the year ahead.

Posted In: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, SNAP Employment and Training, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation, Career Pathways, Sector Partnerships
Will House TANF draft help Americans skill up? NSC weighs in

Based on input from stakeholders across the country, National Skills Coalition submitted comments on a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization discussion draft bill released by the House Ways and Means Committee’s Human Resources Subcommittee earlier this month. The draft bill would make a number of significant changes to the existing program as outlined in our blog post, including substantial modifications to work requirements for TANF recipients and increased emphasis on education and training services.

We applaud the inclusion of a range of proposed policy changes that will expand access to employment, education, and training for TANF participants; a new “Improving Opportunity Fund” to stimulate innovative training strategies; and new requirements that would encourage states to include TANF in broader workforce development planning. At the same time, we are concerned that the draft legislation does not go far enough in bringing TANF in line with the realities of the 21st century economy, and in particular the need to ensure that all Americans – including TANF recipients – have access to the fullest possible range of high quality education and training services aligned to the skill requirements of local and regional industries. Read NSC’s comments.

Posted In: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

House committee to consider draft TANF reauthorization bill

  ·   By Kermit Kaleba
House committee to consider draft TANF reauthorization bill

Last week, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources released a discussion draft for legislation that would reauthorize and update the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The draft bill combines eight smaller bills introduced earlier this month by committee Republicans, and would make a number of significant changes to the existing program, including substantial modifications to work requirements for TANF recipients and increased emphasis on access to education and training services. The subcommittee will hold a hearing on the draft bill on Wednesday, July 15th.   

Key provisions of the discussion draft include:

  • Reauthorizing the basic state family assistance grant for Fiscal Years 2016- 2020 at $16.6 billion, essentially the same levels authorized under current law.
  • Maintaining the current “all-families” work participation rate of 50% - under current law, states are required to ensure that a percentage of work-eligible individuals in families receiving TANF assistance are engaged in work activities on a weekly basis. This requirement has long been criticized because it provides limited incentives for states to develop work strategies that lead to sustainable employment for TANF recipients, and imposes substantial administrative burdens on TANF recipients and providers. The draft bill also includes language that would prohibit the Department of Health and Human Services from implementing any waivers to state work requirements, a response to 2012 guidance issued by HHS that would have permitted states to request such waivers in order to test strategies that would improve employment outcomes for TANF recipients.
  • Eliminating the separate 90% two-parent work participation rate – in addition to the all-families work participation rate described above, states are also required to meet higher work participation rates with respect to two-parent families. The discussion draft would remove this requirement, which would provide greater flexibility for states in designing services for such families.   
  • Eliminating the “caseload reduction credit” – states are currently eligible to receive credits against their workforce participation rates based on a formula that compares current TANF caseloads to their caseloads in 2005. While the caseload reduction credit reduces the percentage of individuals who must engage in work activities – allowing states - there have been concerns that it encourages states to maintain lower caseloads than they might otherwise enroll.
  • Eliminating the current distinction between “core” and “non-core” work activities – under current law, activities defined as job skills training, education relating to employment for individuals who have not obtained a HS diploma, and secondary school attendance may be counted as work participation activities only where the individual has at least 20 hours of work participation in other defined “core” activities. The discussion draft would remove this distinction, meaning that these educational activities could be counted toward work participation rates without first meeting the 20-hour core activity requirement.
  • Allows for partial credit toward work participation rate – currently, states receive no credit if a work-eligible individual fails to meet the minimum hour requirements (generally 20 or 30 hours, depending on family status); the discussion draft would allow states to take partial credit if the work-eligible individual participates in a reduced number of hours of work activity.
  • Extends the lifetime limit on “vocational educational training”  - current law limits creditable participation in vocational educational training programs to a total of 12 months, which limits engagement in longer-term training programs for TANF recipients. The discussion draft would extend the lifetime limit to 24 months. 
  • Flagging as an “open question” whether to lift or modify the cap on share of work participation rate that can be met through participation in vocational educational training or secondary school attendance – TANF currently caps participation in certain education and training activities at 30 percent of families counted towards the work participation rate, a provision that has significantly limits the availability of training for TANF recipients. The discussion draft does not indicate whether the cap would be lifted entirely or simply increased to a higher percentage.
  • Changing the penalties for state failure to meet work participation rates – instead of reducing federal funding, states that failed to meet work participation rates for a given year would be required instead to increase their “maintenance of effort” (MOE) spending – generally set at 80 percent of state spending levels relative to spending in 1994 - by five percent, up to a maximum of 100 percent.
  • Replacing the current language authorizing high performance bonus payments to states – a provision that has not been funded in more than a decade – with new requirements that dedicate a portion of state funds to support “increased employment and retention” of former TANF recipients. The discussion draft adopts employment and median earnings indicators similar to those applied to core programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and requires states to negotiate performance rates with respect to each indicator in order to receive funds under this section.
  • Repealing the TANF Contingency Fund and redirects the funding to a new “Improving Opportunity Fund” that will support five new grants:
      • $308 million for coordinated case management demonstration grants
      • $75 million for subsidized employment demonstration grants
      • $75 million for “social impact” demonstration grants
      • $75 million for two-generation demonstration grants
      • $75 million for demonstration grants for training in in-demand jobs
  • Flagging as an “open question” the possibility of establishing a floor on expenditures for child care, cash assistance, and work activities. The discussion draft does not provide language around this proposal.
  • Imposing new state planning requirements – the draft bill would generally require states to develop and submit a “combined state plan” that meets or exceeds the TANF state plan requirements and section 103 of WIOA. States may opt out of the combined plan requirement, but if they do they must enter into an agreement with the state workforce agency that describes how the state will (A) coordinate and avoid duplication among other employment, training, education, and human services programs, including those funded under WIOA; (B) share performance accountability goals under new section 403(a)(4) with the state workforce agency; (C) align activities with the strategic planning elements developed by the State Workforce Development Board; and (D) provide written notification to the Departments of Labor and HHS describing why the state chose to opt TANF out of a combined plan and provide a copy of the MOU.


National Skills Coalition, in partnership with the Center on Law and Social Policy and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, recently released a fact sheet outlining key areas of potential alignment between TANF and WIOA-funded programs, and we are encouraged to see that Congress is considering steps to better connect TANF recipients to meaningful employment and training opportunities, including through greater coordination with other federal skills investments. While we believe the discussion draft is a useful starting point, we will seek to work with policymakers to improve the existing draft legislation to ensure that it meets the needs of all TANF recipients.

Posted In: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Aligned by design: New WIOA webinar series

  ·   By Yuri Chang
Aligned by design: New WIOA webinar series

Aligned by Design is a series of webinars hosted by National Skills Coalition that will explore how states can proactively use the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) planning process to align key human capital investments to produce better outcomes for individuals and local economies. Each webinar will feature national and local experts and will address key principles for aligning WIOA with particular federal funding streams, whether as part of a unified or combined plan.

  • June 8 - Aligned by Design: WIOA & Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) 
  • June 17 - Aligned by Design: WIOA & Adult Education (Title II)
  • July 1 - Aligned by Design: WIOA & Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) 
  • July 21 - Aligned by Design: WIOA & Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment & Training (SNAP E&T)
     

Aligned by Design: WIOA & Perkins Career and Technical Education
Monday, June 8, 3-4:15 p.m. ET
Watch the webinar recording
Download the accompanying fact sheet 

WIOA offers new opportunities for the workforce system and Career and Technical Education (CTE) to work together. Whether a state creates a “Combined Plan” that includes WIOA and the State Plan for Perkins, or a state writes a “Unified Plan,” the state should consider how these programs can best work together to prepare individuals for careers that meet employer skill needs. 

NSC released a fact sheet outlining areas where alignment can occur to supplement the upcoming webinar discussion.

Speakers:
• Kimberly Green, Executive Director, National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium
• Alisha Hyslop, Director of Public Policy, Association for Career and Technical Education
• Gene Dudley, Director, Career and Technical Education, Alabama Community College System 

Aligned by Design: WIOA & Adult Education (Title II)
Wednesday, June 17, 2-3:15 p.m. ET
Watch the webinar recording
Download the accompanying fact sheet 

WIOA provides unprecedented opportunities for Title II adult education services to function in collaboration with Title I workforce services. While this coordination across titles is required regardless of whether states chose to create a "unified plan" or "combined plan" under WIOA, much remains to be seen in terms of how it will occur. Adult educators can play a key role in determining the design and execution of coordination in their states. Join us to discuss important considerations for adult educators in WIOA planning.

Speakers:
• Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Senior Policy Analyst, National Skills Coalition 
• Art Ellison, Public Policy Chair, National Council of State Directors of Adult Education; and Administrator, New Hampshire Bureau of Adult Education
• Reecie Stagnolia, Vice President for Adult Education, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education
 

Aligned by Design: WIOA & Temporary Assistance for Needing Families (TANF)
Wednesday, July 1, 3-4:15 p.m. ET 
Watch the webinar recording
Download the accompanying fact sheet

WIOA offers new opportunities for the workforce system and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs to work together. Regardless of whether a state opts to develop a unified plan or a combined plan under WIOA, TANF representatives should be included in the planning process from the outset to help define TANF’s role in achieving the state’s goals, and to identify and address potential barriers to collaboration. Aligned by Design: WIOA & TANF features national and local experts to address key principles for aligning human capital investments to produce better outcomes for individuals and local economies. 

Speakers: 
• Kermit Kaleba, Federal Policy Director, National Skills Coalition 
• Elizabeth Lower-Basch, Policy Coordinator & Director, Income and Work Supports, Center for Law and Social Policy 
• Cindy Blakeney Varner, Assistant Director for Employment Assistance, Arkansas Department of Workforce Services

Aligned by Design: WIOA & Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program Employment and Training
Tuesday, July 21, 3-4:15 p.m. ET
Watch the webinar recording
Download the accompanying fact sheet 

WIOA provides new opportunities for the workforce system and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) to work together. The WIOA state planning process provides an opportunity for states to align SNAP E&T with the broader workforce system to help SNAP participants build their skills and find family-supporting jobs. Aligned by Design: WIOA & SNAP E&T features national and local experts to address key principles for education and training investments to produce better outcomes for individuals and local economies. 

Speakers: 
• Brooke DeRenzis, Senior State Policy Analyst, National Skills Coalition 
• Ed Bolen, Senior Policy Analyst, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 
• Alice Pritchard, Executive Director, Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund 
• Bill Seedman, Public Assistance Consultant, Connecticut Department of Social Services

Posted In: Career and Technical Education, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, SNAP Employment and Training, Adult Basic Education, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation
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