TOPEKA – On Monday, Jan. 25, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) will launch a new employment and training pilot program called GOALS to help low-income Kansans who currently receive food assistance.
“GOALS (Generating Opportunities to Attain Lifelong Success) will help eligible residents get on a path to successful careers that pay living wages and offer advancement opportunities,” said DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore.
With the backing of a $13.5 million grant that was announced in March, GOALS will work in tandem with DCF’s current job training program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The current SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program has produced a 67 percent employment rate with a budget of just $500,000.
“We are proud of the success SNAP E&T has had in helping Kansans develop the skills and tools necessary to work,” Gilmore said. “GOALS will serve as a launching pad to develop a much broader impact and provide more extensive assistance to people who have the potential to be tremendous employees.”
Kansas was one of 10 states awarded a competitive grant by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to develop and test innovative SNAP E&T strategies. The pilot program will serve approximately 4,000 food assistance recipients in 36 counties across both urban and rural areas over three years. The GOALS pilot will serve some clients, while the traditional E&T program will continue to serve others, with the purpose of testing and demonstrating the effectiveness of the more extensive GOALS strategy.
According to SNAP E&T Program Manager Ruth Arensdorf, the E&T program has focused on teaching participants soft skills such as employment readiness and self-confidence, as well as helping them write resumes, plan job searches and improve their interview skills. It also has provided limited financial assistance for travel and clothing.
In a much more robust approach, GOALS services will be individualized to each participant’s needs, with a Career Navigator providing guidance and support through four service phases—Stabilize, Train, Place and Sustain. GOALS will also be tailored to meet the needs of each community, using a collective impact approach to engage employers and other partners in sustainable strategies for matching participants with labor market opportunities.
Eligible participants will have a chance to access:
- A Career Navigator specifically assigned to assist participants on a path to a better career;
- Career guidance and training based on eligibility, individual assessments and labor market demands;
- Employment supports such as child care assistance, uniform and tool payments, transportation assistance and help with other barriers as needed, such as addiction counseling
- Employer Liaisons dedicated to building relationships with employers and finding job opportunities;
- Continued support after employment, such as peer mentoring and problem-solving guidance.
Arensdorf said a significant aspect of GOALS will be that it will offer assistance for those with mental health and substance abuse barriers to employment, something the E&T program lacks the funds to provide.
“We’ve shown we can successfully help people find and keep a job,” said Gilmore. “This new pilot will give us the funds to go out and do it on a much broader scale, and to help people with some roadblocks to employment that we couldn’t previously address.”
Food assistance recipients interested in finding out more should contact Kansas DCF’s customer service line at 1-888-369-4777 and ask about GOALS. Employers, agency partners and others interested are encouraged to contact program manager Ruth Arensdorf at Ruth.Arensdorf@ks.gov
. More information may also be found at www.goals.ks.gov.