Members of HCJFS’ Workforce Development team received an award today for an innovative partnership to help food assistance recipients find work. County Administrator Jeff Aluotto presented the “Team Impact” award as part of Hamilton County’s 2018 Circle of Excellence. The team was also honored Wednesday at the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners meeting.
The award recognizes the county’s partnership to help food assistance recipients obtain long-term self-sufficiency through training and employment in the trucking industry. HCJFS partnered with the state of Ohio and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service in a first-of-its-kind partnership that trained food assistance recipients to drive trucks, resulting in jobs paying more than $45,000 per year.
Tim Dingler, a Workforce Development Program manager, led implementation of the program and conducted outreach to identify the best candidates. Lisa Willwerth, a contract specialist, solicited bids for the training. Jackie Farrier-Hogan, a Workforce Development contract representative, helped screen candidates and served as the dedicated contact for questions about the program and enrollment. Kevin Holt and April Barker, both section chiefs in Workforce Development, helped guide the program implementation and provided counsel as the effort progressed.
In addition to the core team, this project received countless support from members of the Hamilton County Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training team, including Mesha Long, Terri Weil, Linda Hudson, Christine Wallace, Robert Smith and Jessica Mills.
The trucking partnership funds tuition for a $4,000 five-week course (80 hours in the classroom and 120 hours on the equipment) at Napier Truck Driving Training, Inc., as well as books and other fees needed to prepare for, and pass, a Commercial Drivers’ License test.
The agency targeted food assistance recipients who earn 130 percent of the federal poverty level or less. That means a family of four must earn less than $32,000 annually to be eligible. That family would receive a maximum monthly allotment of about $650, or about $21 a day to feed their family.
Graduates of the program have been awarded Class A licenses and are working full time in jobs paying $866 per week, or $45,032 annually.
“By earning a living wage and achieving long-term employment, they are stabilizing their family and establishing long-term self-sufficiency,” Weir said. “Stronger families make stronger communities.”