Governor Pete Ricketts, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the Nebraska Department of Labor (DOL) unveiled a new, major employment initiative for participants in Nebraska’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. The first year of a joint pilot program has connected families who receive SNAP benefits with better-paying jobs. The program is a partnership between DHHS and DOL and utilizes the departments’ existing manpower and resources.
“I applaud DHHS and DOL for working together to find solutions to connect Nebraska families to better-paying jobs and greater financial independence,” said Governor Ricketts. “Partnerships like this in state government grow our state and help keep Nebraska the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family.”
The pilot program, which launched last year in Grand Island, has involved 27 families so far. Fourteen SNAP clients changed jobs, resulting in an average increased annual salary of $6,900. Because of higher salaries, eight receive fewer SNAP benefits, and six no longer receive SNAP funds.
DHHS and DOL are expanding the program. It was launched this month in Hastings, and the program is scheduled to start in Columbus in September, and Norfolk in May 2018. In the Hastings program, clients will be served online who are unable to travel to Grand Island.
“We thank the Department of Labor for working with us to help Nebraskans make their lives better,” said DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips. “From the start, the joint team kept its focus on effectively serving our customers and finding answers to their challenges to prepare them for higher-paying jobs with health insurance and work hours that help to stabilize their personal lives.”
“DHHS has been a great partner in this effort. Because of this team effort with DHHS, we have been able to connect SNAP recipients with good-paying jobs that help them support their families and enjoy the good life of Nebraska,” said DOL Commissioner John H. Albin.
DHHS and DOL meet with clients to identify and provide assistance they need to overcome barriers to their success while enhancing their lives at home. A plan is developed and the DHHS case manager coaches and supports clients to overcome the barriers keeping them from higher-paying jobs. DOL provides training in preparing SNAP clients to find more-suitable jobs through résumé writing, learning how to search for a job, preparing for job interviews, and working with employers for on-the-job training.
Families not only have increased income, but the program also has helped improve their quality of life. Many participants now have stable work hours, which has given them more time to spend with family.
Kristine LaPointe participated in the program and praised the service for preparing her for job interviews, which helped her land a higher-paying job.
“It was great to have someone in my corner to give me help so I can care for my son better than I have before,” said LaPointe. “My new job gives me the opportunity to spend more time with my son. I wish I had something like this when I was younger so I could have supported myself sooner.”
Other examples of the families’ successes are:
- A single mother working as a waitress made just over $900 a month with no employee benefits. Now, she earns almost $2,700 a month with full benefits, pension, and potential bonuses.
- A single mother raising a child left a waitress job to work in education and increased her income by $425 a month.
- A fast-food worker got a job at a grocery store and makes about $400 more a month and now receives employee benefits.
- A previous part-time and self-employed client working full-time in production with income of $492 a month now earns $2,528 a month and no longer receives SNAP benefits.
- Another part-time worker now is a full-time delivery driver earning $15 an hour and no longer receives SNAP benefits.
- A single parent working the second shift that included weekends now works an 8 a.m.-5 p.m job. She’s now able to spend evenings with her children.
SNAP helps people with low-incomes buy food, and was previously known as food stamps. SNAP funds are administered by DHHS based on federal guidelines. SNAP eligibility is based on many factors such as family size, income, and other family resources.