Hamilton County JFS has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that enhance services for residents.
NACo recognized HCJFS’ training partnership with Napier Trucking that resulted in six people gaining employment that pays at least $900 per week. It is the first partnership of its kind in Ohio. It is one of three HCJFS programs to receive a NACo award this year. Keep watching here for stories about the other two awards.
Programs such as this take the county agency from the position of providing a handout during troubled times of need to a hand up to long-term stability. Stronger families make stronger communities.
NACo President Bryan Desloge said, “Counties overcome complex challenges, provide essential services and constantly do more with less. We applaud these Achievement Award-winning counties for outstanding efforts to improve residents’ quality of life.”
Nationally, NACo awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.
The seeds of the partnership were planted last spring when Hamilton County requested the state of Ohio provide $50,000 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training Funds to match an existing $50,000. The funds cover 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., books and other fees needed to prepare for, and pass, a Commercial Drivers’ License test.
Workforce Development Program Manager Tim Dingler credits staffers Jackie Farrier-Hogan, Christine Wallace, Mesha Long, Terri Weil, Linda Hudson and Toni Smothers for recruiting and screening participants.
The county targeted food assistance recipients for the training. Families earning 130 percent of the federal poverty level or less are eligible for food assistance. That means a family of four must earn less than $32,000 annually to be eligible.
For several years, Hamilton County has sent local residents who desire job training to Napier Truck Driving School. It has traditionally funded training with money from the Workforce Investment Act, now the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
In the spring of 2016, Hamilton County JFS was able to obtain $50,000 in funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services for employment and training of food assistance recipients. The agency was able to secure a like amount of matching funds from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services for the same purpose.
Due to some previous success helping several agency consumers find work as commercial truck drivers, the county elected to spend all of those funds on training recipients to drive a truck, both a need in this country and a popular employment choice of many of our consumers.
The agency competitively bid for truck driver training and Napier was awarded the bid. In late summer 2016, the agency began to identify food assistance recipients and enroll them in the program. The Hamilton County Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training unit determined if a participant was currently receiving SNAP benefits and participating in the SNAP Employment and Training program. Napier Trucking determined a participant’s ability to enroll and then successfully complete their CDL program.
Napier Truck Driving offers a Class A Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL) Program. The training is a five-week, full-time class operated Monday through Friday. The class consists of two weeks (80 hours) in the classroom and three weeks (120 hours) on the equipment.