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DelBene introduces job training legislation in House

Suzan DelBene represents Bothell and Kenmore in Congress. - Reporter file photo
Suzan DelBene represents Bothell and Kenmore in Congress.
— image credit: Reporter file photo

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene introduced legislation today to create a new national competitive grant program dedicated to funding job training programs to support low-income individuals currently on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The legislation will create pilot projects designed to facilitate access to the education and job skills necessary for participants to get well-paying jobs and reduce their need for government assistance.

DelBene’s bill creates a three year, $30 million competitive grant fund to encourage states to provide targeted employment and training programs similar to Washington State’s Basic Food Education & Training program (BFET).

Washington’s BFET program has proven successful at helping low-income individuals, helping over 11,000 people get jobs to date. During the height of the recession, 60% of Washington’s BFET participants found jobs. A recent analysis of BFET found that fewer than half of those enrolled remained on government assistance two years after starting the program.

“In tough economic times, we need to do more to help struggling families get access to opportunity by helping them get the skills they need to get a good job with a good wage,” said DelBene. “This bill will spur pilot projects across the country modeled after Washington State’s very successful employment and training program, which has helped thousands gain employment and reduce their need of government assistance. This jobs bill is a smart way for government to invest now, create jobs and save a lot in the future.

Unlike most federal job training programs that exist today, the new pilot created by DelBene’s bill will provide targeted employment and training resources tailored to help low-income adults currently receiving SNAP benefits. The bill will encourage states to adopt innovative strategies to increase the effectiveness of existing job training programs. Historically, programs that served SNAP participants have provided limited job search assistance. An expansion of Washington State’s program will encourage states to instead administer programs with meaningful education and training opportunities, enabling participants to obtain industry-recognized degrees and credentials that are highly valued in today’s labor market.

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