Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T), a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), supports employment and training activities to increase self-sufficiency for SNAP participants. SNAP E&T can expand opportunities for low-income people to enhance their skills, credentials, careers, and ultimately, their families'; financial well-being. Yet few states have fully realized SNAP E&T's potential to provide skill-building opportunities. In fact, many states are leaving federal SNAP E&T dollars on the table, which could instead be used to provide education, training, and support services.
In 2015, National Skills Coalition (NSC) and Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI) partnered to help four states expand skills-based SNAP E&T programs. This policy brief shares recommendations for states based on lessons learned from our work with Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, and Oregon. Specifically, this brief makes the following recommendations for those looking to expand skills-based SNAP E&T programs at the state level:
Staff and stakeholders should work with SNAP E&T agency leadership to develop a vision for a skills-focused program and implement a strategy to achieve that vision.
States should use pilot programs to test and refine strategies for expanding SNAP E&T programs.
SNAP E&T programs should build on the strengths and experience of existing workforce development efforts, and should align SNAP E&T with other programs, such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
SNAP E&T programs should use federal funding and administrative tools to partner with community colleges and community-based organizations as service providers.
The brief also identifies a set of common challenges in developing skills-based SNAP E&T programs and makes recommendations for how state SNAP E&T agencies can address them. (Author abstract)