The National Association of Counties has chosen a Hamilton County Job and Family Services’ program as one of its 100 Brilliant Ideas at Work, recognizing the program as one of the most innovative government programs in the country.
The Association recognized the county’s partnership to help food assistance recipients obtain long-term self-sufficiency through training and employment in the trucking industry. Hamilton County 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.
“Your entry showcases one of the best innovations in county government, and, with appreciation, we are pleased to recognize your work to improve residents’ quality of life,” NACO president Bryan Desloge said, in recognizing the partnership.
The “Trucking Partnership” was originally recognized by NACo as a 2017 Achievement Award winner for government innovation in early May. Hamilton County Job and Family Services actually won three 2017 Achievement Awards for innovation, pushing the agency’s total to 16 achievement awards since 2009, more than any other government agency in Ohio.
The Brilliant Ideas at Work Presidential Initiative is a new initiative this year to highlight the best of the best when it came to innovative programs – the nation’s top 100 programs. Winners were announced Friday, June 2.
“We are proud to be recognized for innovative programming because it is outside validation that we are achieving our mission of improving the lives of Hamilton County residents,” said Moira Weir, director of Hamilton County Job and Family Services. “This program in particular has led to nearly a dozen participants being able to better care for their families and we hope to soon expand it to serve more than 100 new people.”
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.”