SECTION 1. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, there is hereby established, a three-year pilot program, called Pathways to Family Economic Self-Sufficiency, hereinafter referred to as the Pilot, to equip low-income families for long-term economic stability and self-support by providing enhanced preparation for, increased access to, and support for success in education and training programs leading to employment in high-demand occupations.
SECTION 2. The Pilot shall be administered by the Commonwealth Corporation under contract with the Department of Transitional Assistance and shall maximize private, public and philanthropic resources including funding and in-kind services.
SECTION 3. Commonwealth Corporation will administer a request for proposal to select the pilot sites. Qualified respondents must demonstrate their capacity for and experience in supporting the efforts of low-income families to prepare for, obtain, and maintain employment. Successful respondents shall, at minimum: (1) conduct comprehensive work readiness assessments of participants’ strengths, challenges, needs and barriers leading to detailed education, training and career plans; (2) provide a continuum of services tailored to individual participants’ needs through partnerships with other organizations or through services provided directly by the Pilot including but not limited to: (a) readiness training designed to strengthen soft skills such as time management, conflict resolution, life and work balance, self-confidence, study skills, and job search skills; (b) personnel such as case managers, social workers or others who help participants navigate the education and training system and resources to address impediments to retention and success in education, training and employment; (c) remedial skills training including but not limited to English for the workplace or other services that integrate Adult Basic Education and/or English for Speakers of Other Languages with occupational skills; (d) opportunities for paid work study for students or other work experience that may include job shadowing, internships, on-the-job training, or subsidized employment with adequate hours to ensure participants meet federally mandated Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, hereinafter referred to as TANF, work requirements; (e) job placement assistance and post-placement career development, support, and coaching; (f) assistance with emergency financial needs that may prevent program completion; and, (3) support the evaluation efforts of the independent evaluator established in Section 4.
SECTION 4. Commonwealth Corporation shall engage an independent evaluator for the purposes of documenting implementation to support replication and evaluating outcomes of the Pilot. Commonwealth Corporation will report annually, no later than December 1, to the chairs of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, the Joint Committee on Higher Education, and the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. This report shall include, at minimum, the number of participants, duration in the Pilot, degrees or certificates awarded, information regarding placements, retention, advancement, and hourly earnings. A final evaluation including a cost benefit analysis and recommendations for future action will be provided to the chairs of the above mentioned committees within six months of the conclusion of the Pilot.
The independent evaluator shall also explore the ways in which other states support employment and training for TANF recipients and determine the extent to which TANF dollars may be directed towards expanding access to employment services. The independent evaluator shall report the results of this exploration to the chairs of the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means within six months of enactment.
SECTION 5. Eligible individuals include adults and teens with responsibility for the care of one or more dependent children who: a) are receiving or have within the past two years received Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children, or, b) who are receiving or have within the past two years received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or, c) are receiving or have within the past two years received Mass Health benefits on behalf of her or himself or one or more dependent children, and, d) who are determined suitable for participation in the Pilot based on an assessment of education, work experience, interest in participation and other factors; provided, that at least 40 percent of the participants shall be recipients of Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children at the time their participation begins.
SECTION 6. The Department of Transitional Assistance shall maximize the use of federal matching funds from the United States Department of Agriculture pursuant to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training Program for education, employment and training services for eligible food stamp participants, including related dependent care and transportation expenses, to the fullest extent permitted by federal law.
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