Legislation built upon Urbana based Carle Hospital’s Healthy Beginnings program that seeks to provide workforce training and employment skills to those out of work, underemployed, or those at the lowest income levels was signed into law Aug. 10 by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Senate Bill 3232, sponsored by State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet), will now create a five-year demonstration program and include training in an effort to get people out of poverty and into productive working employment. The focus of the program includes an Intensive Workforce Training Program and Multi-generational Healthy Family Initiative, two projects currently operated by the Carle Foundation Hospital and Physician Group in Champaign-Urbana for people in poverty.
“Thanks to the Governor’s signature, something I have long sought is now, at the least, going to being given a try,” Rose said. “This pilot program looks to transition our welfare programs from ‘give a man a fish – he eats for a day,’ to ‘teach a man to fish – he eats for a lifetime.’
“I want to thank Carle Hospital for their leadership and vision in this tremendous effort. The effort is a win-win for our state and most importantly, the individuals who will be able to get out of poverty and into the workforce through the program. It utilizes private dollars, not taxpayer dollars. Our communities are better when people are working and our state will never truly get out of the fiscal shape it is in, without innovative changes to existing programs that move people off the expense rolls of the budget and onto the taxpaying side of the ledger.”
The law allows for newly gained income to be disregarded for a period of 36 months, as long as participants are in the program with the goal of getting them into higher paying jobs that come with benefits and off of public assistance permanently. Currently, individuals face a ceiling where they lose benefits right as they are taking a step toward self-sufficiency within an employment relationship - the loss causes many to quit.
“Time, work history, and trained skills are all necessary to make that final jump to a pay and benefit scale for sustainability, but many interim jumps won’t be enough to sustain a family," Rose said. "But, without them, the individual never develops the skill-set and work history necessary to land a truly good, well-paying job, with benefits. This law is designed to test a transition period to help them get beyond that interim step ceiling and into self-sufficiency.”
The program could help up to 500 people locally. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019.