Innovations in Child Support Policy: 3 Ways to Increase Employment + Economic Opportunity for Noncustodial Parents

By James Jones, B.MORE Initiative Coordinator

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In 1995, President William “Bill” Clinton proclaimed August National Child Support Awareness Month.  The goal was to raise awareness about the critical role child support plays in the lives of millions of American children.  Clinton was responding to a social problem that appeared to be on the rise.  In the mid-nineties, there was a growing percentage of single parent households in America and children in those households had a high chance of suffering from poverty. Today, almost two decades later, the child support program serves half of all poor children in the country and 17 million children in total.

While many noncustodial parents want to be involved with their children, many also live in poverty and lack the resources to financially provide for their children. Most unpaid child support is owed by these parents and for many the lack of steady income is a major barrier to fulfilling parental obligations.  At the same time, child support payments represent a significant portion of the income of families living in poverty.  Oftentimes, these payments are responsible for keeping children out of extreme poverty.

The National Initiatives on Poverty and Economic Opportunity team is focused on developing and expanding sustainable policy solutions that benefit children and increase employment and economic opportunities for low-income noncustodial parents.  To that end, this July we led a strategic policy/advocacy planning and campaign development summit with our partners at Connections to Success (CtS) in Missouri and Kansas.  Working with Connections’ leadership and program staff, we equipped them to identify and advance child support policies in Missouri that could better support low-income, noncustodial fathers’ efforts to access employment opportunities, support their children, and advance in the labor market.  Drawing from our training with CtS, in this blog we’re highlighting three child support policy innovations that would increase employment and economic opportunity for low-income parents.  Read More…

Getting Colorado Back to Work: Transitional Jobs Benefit Business + Workers

 By David T. Applegate, Policy and Advocacy Assistant, NTJN

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In July 2013, the Colorado state legislature passed the Colorado Careers Act (HB13-1004) establishing ReHire Colorado – an innovative and forward-thinking transitional employment program to be administered by the Colorado Department of Human Services. Using transitional jobs as the central mechanism, ReHire aims to stimulate the local economy and address unemployment by putting unemployed Coloradans back on the path to work with wage paid work with local employers. In order to implement the program, the state awarded contracts to five local service providers – one being the Larimer County Workforce Center in Northern Colorado.

The Workforce Center serves both jobseekers and businesses through an array of training, educational, and internship programs. Adam Crowe, the Business Development Manager at the Workforce Center, reminds us that “work is such a key component of who we are as humans that I think it is easy to forget about at times.”

Recently, the NTJN had the chance to talk with Adam about the Workforce Center’s success in using transitional employment and strong relationships with employer partners in attacking poverty and unemployment in Northern Colorado. Read More…

Healing & Thriving Communities Requires Expanding Opportunity for All

By Melissa Young, Director, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity, Heartland Alliance

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The city of Ferguson is, unfortunately, not unique. Ferguson is emblematic of far too many American communities home to millions of Americans facing barriers to opportunity and justice.  When we take a deeper look at Ferguson, we see a community burdened by significantly higher and deeper poverty than the rest of the country and its surrounding area – many residents being one or two crises away from experiencing homelessness and many facing significant food insecurity [1]. Sadly, hardships like these are felt in countless other large and small places across the country. If Ferguson and communities like it are to heal and thrive, we know we have to achieve policy change that expands opportunity.
Read More…

Four Ways You Can Be an Employment Champion for Homeless Job Seekers

By Caitlin C. Schnur, Workforce Research & Policy Fellow, NTJN

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Health Care for the Homeless – Baltimore (Photo courtesy of National Health Care for the Homeless Council)

In the National Transitional Jobs Network’s (NTJN) recent article in the Institute for Children, Poverty & HomelessnessUNCENSORED magazine, we showed why employment is critical to ending family homelessness and gave homeless service providers recommendations for integrating employment strategies into their programming.  We know, however, that many homeless service providers already offer consumers quality employment services and believe that employment has an important role to play in ending homelessness—so, what’s next? Here, we shift the focus from building better programs to building systems that prioritize employment as a pathway out of homelessness and are well-equipped to serve homeless job seekers.  If you’re a service provider looking to channel your experience and expertise toward ensuring that more homeless job seekers have access to employment and economic opportunity, this blog offers four actionable strategies to jumpstart your advocacy work.  Ready?  Go!  Read More…

Holistic Services: A Recipe for Success in Helping Homeless Youth Get + Keep Jobs

By David Applegate, Policy and Advocacy Assistant, NTJN

 DayBreak

This month, the National Transitional Jobs Network (NTJN) is highlighting an organization that’s been leading the way in the fight to end youth homelessness for over forty years: Daybreak. Located in Dayton, Ohio, Daybreak was founded in 1975 by volunteers who realized that young people who had been kicked out of their homes or had run away needed a safe place to stay at night.

Originally an emergency shelter for homeless youth, Daybreak’s operations have evolved and expanded over time.  As Daybreak’s Chief Executive Officer, Linda Kramer, puts it, “Our work is no longer just about housing the 15 year-old runaway but trying our best to address each individual’s oftentimes extensive and complex needs.”  Today, Daybreak offers street outreach, housing, education, mental health, and employment services—including transitional jobs—to help youth get and stay housed.  

In this interview, Linda shares more about the need for a holistic approach when addressing the needs of homeless youth and tells us all about Daybreak’s innovative approach to increasing employment opportunities for youth via their creative transitional jobs program. Read More…

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