Provides recommendations and resources to help state-level administrators, policymakers, and organizations promote and advocate for skills-based Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training programs, which focus on improving career pathways for people with employment barriers through education, occupational skills training, and support services.

“This toolkit provides resources to state policymakers, advocates, and practitioners on state policies to advance skills-based Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T). It is among a set of state skills equity policies being promoted by National Skills Coalition. These policies are aimed at expanding…access to middle-skill training, credentials, and family-supporting careers, particularly for those who have faced barriers to economic opportunity.” (p.1).

“Skills-based SNAP E&T programs provide a combination of education (including adult basic education and ESL), occupational skills training, and support services that put participants on a pathway to a career. While service delivery models can vary, model skills-based programs typically contract with partners, such as community colleges, community-based organizations, and others to provide these services for SNAP E&T participants. In doing so, skills-based SNAP E&T programs leverage the expertise and resources of partners who have experience helping low-income people prepare for skilled work” (p.2).

The toolkit “contains:

·         Guidance on the key components of [the authors’] model skills-based SNAP E&T state policy

·         State examples of skills-based SNAP E&T policy components

·         A skills-based SNAP E&T policy template that can be used…as the basis for state legislation or executive order” (p.1).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The authors provide the following “recommendations…[for] policies…[to] address each component of…[their] model skills-based SNAP E&T program” (p.3). “Make skill building an integral part of the SNAP E&T program vision. State policy leaders can direct state agencies to make skill building a central focus of the state’s SNAP E&T program. By adopting a vision for SNAP E&T that establishes skill building as a primary program activity, states can shift their program from one focused on moving participants into any job to one that puts participants on a pathway to skilled careers. Studies of welfare programs in California, Missouri, and North Carolina found that programs that stressed education and training yielded better employment and earnings outcomes in the long-term than did ‘work-first’ programs focused on job search and immediate labor market attachment” (p.3). “Make participation in SNAP E&T voluntary for all. Under federal law, SNAP participants who are not eligible for exemptions due to age, disability, dependent caretaking, or other situations must register for work. However, states can choose whether to make SNAP E&T participation mandatory or voluntary for work registrants. In states with mandatory programs, those who do not meet federal or state exemptions must participate in a SNAP E&T program in order to receive benefits. By contrast, in states with all-voluntary SNAP E&T programs, SNAP recipients choose whether or not to participate in E&T” (p.4). “Require the state SNAP E&T agency to create a strategic plan and timeline for developing a skills-based, third-party partnership model, starting with a pilot program. Challenges such as limited experience in education and training, staff capacity, and constrained financial resources may keep state agencies from pursuing skills-based SNAP E&T programs. Luckily, SNAP E&T agencies don’t have to develop skills-based programs on their own. Instead, they can leverage the expertise and resources of partner organizations to create and expand skill-building opportunities for participants” (p.4). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)