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LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the Nebraska Department of Labor (DOL) applauded the expansion of a key state workforce program to Norfolk. Last year, the State of Nebraska launched an initiative designed to help participants in Nebraska’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, gain greater financial independence by connecting them to better-paying jobs. The pilot has seen success since it launched in Grand Island in 2016. The program is set to expand to Norfolk, several months ahead of schedule, on February 1, 2018.
“The swift growth of the SNAP reemployment program is indicative of just how focused both DHHS and DOL are on helping Nebraskans connect with great opportunities,” Governor Ricketts said. “The initial launch of the program in Grand Island last July, and the subsequent launches in Hastings and Columbus have helped Nebraskans get new jobs and better incomes. The Norfolk program will help even more Nebraskans achieve greater financial independence, and we encourage qualifying families to sign up.”
“We are pleased the SNAP pilot program has already impacted so many lives. The success thus far is a testament to the commitment of our team and their dedication to effectively serving our fellow Nebraskans. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Department of Labor as we expand the program and work to help people support their families and live better lives,” said Courtney Phillips, CEO of DHHS.
John H. Albin, DOL Commissioner, expressed similar sentiments: “The Norfolk launch will help us get closer to our goal of making this a program that is readily accessible to everyone in our state. It’s important that the people of Nebraska are connected with opportunities to ensure their family's independence.”
Both DHHS and DOL expect that state-wide expansion will follow soon. To date, 69 Nebraskans have enrolled in the re-employment program and 18 have found new jobs. The increased annual salary on average for participants is $10,249. About half of the clients helped thus far have been able to decrease the amount of SNAP benefits needed, and the other half no longer have a need for SNAP benefits at all.
As part of the program, DHHS and DOL meet with clients to identify and provide assistance needed to overcome barriers to their success, while enhancing their lives at home. A plan is developed and their DHHS case manager coaches and supports them to overcome the barriers keeping them from higher-paying jobs.
DOL provides training in preparing SNAP clients to find jobs with higher wages, increased benefits and better work hours. This is accomplished through job search and résumé assistance, interview training, vouchers to buy clothing for interviews, paying for child care and similar services, occupational skills training services to upgrade their skill set, and work experience and on-the-job training to help them enter new employment.
SNAP helps connect people to healthy and nutritious foods. SNAP funds are administered by DHHS, based on federal guidelines, and SNAP eligibility is based on many factors including family size, income, and other family resources.