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Kentucky SNAP Recipients Get Employment, Training
Kentucky Ag Connection - 01/09/2018

Kentuckians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and are eligible for the federally funded Employment and Training (E&T) program will now receive assistance from Kentucky Career Centers to meet education and employment training needs.

To better serve the people of Kentucky, several agencies in the state government created a new system for SNAP recipients to access locally available training opportunities and find open jobs. This new system became available Jan. 1, thanks to this collaboration between the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), which administers the SNAP program through the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS), the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet's Department of Workforce Investment (DWI), and the 10 Local Workforce Development Boards.

"More than 25,600 jobs were added across all industry sectors in Kentucky during 2017, and more than 17,200 new jobs were announced. That's in addition to the thousands of existing jobs that were already open throughout the Commonwealth," said Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner. "We are pleased we can now help train and place SNAP recipients in these great jobs through our Kentucky Career Centers."

Kentucky Career Centers are led in each of the Commonwealth's 10 workforce development areas by local workforce development boards. This gives each board the ability to work directly with employers, and to determine the job availability and training needs on a local level. Some services provided by the Career Centers include skills assessments, resume building, and interview preparation.

Currently, SNAP recipients can receive services through this collaboration in the following 20 Kentucky counties: Anderson, Bullitt, Calloway, Campbell, Daviess, Fayette, Franklin, Hardin, Henderson, Henry, Jefferson, Jessamine, Logan, Oldham, Owen, Shelby, Simpson, Spencer, Warren and Woodford. However, throughout 2018, the program will expand to 112 counties. The remaining eight counties in eastern Kentucky, which are part of the Paths 2 Promise program, will not be affected. Approximately 35,421 individuals in Kentucky are eligible to participate.

"The SNAP E&T program was implemented in 1996 as a way to get eligible adults on a path to self-sufficiency through education and career training," said Beth Kuhn, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Workforce Investment. "It's a natural fit for the DWI Office of Employment and Training and Kentucky Career Centers to begin providing this service to SNAP recipients, just as we do for individuals receiving unemployment benefits."

The 1996 federal welfare reform law required that able-bodied adults ages 18-49 who do not have dependents must meet work, skills training, or community engagement requirements of 20 hours per week in order to remain eligible for SNAP (formerly known as food stamp) benefits. The requirement was waived in 2008 to 2015 due to the economic recession, but never scaled back up as the economy improved.

"This collaboration will enable our caseworkers to spend more time on health and family issues, while the Kentucky Career Center counselors can focus on the specific employment and training needs of each recipient," said DCBS Commissioner Adria Johnson.

This SNAP E&T collaboration is considered a pilot of the state's proposed Medicaid transformation, which includes a community engagement requirement and is expected to begin in July 2018, pending federal approval. "The Medicaid and SNAP populations overlap quite a bit," according to Kristi Putnam, program manager for the Kentucky HEALTH Medicaid transformation. "To keep things simpler, we have aligned the programs. The Kentucky HEALTH program will feature a similar community engagement aspect that aims to also give members the tools to obtain good-paying jobs and lead to better health and overall well-being."

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