According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of low-income working families continues to increase, from 10.2 million in 2010 up to 10.4 million in 2011 (Roberts, Povich, & Mathers, 2012-2013). Children are particularly hard hit, with more than 32 million children living in poverty today—many in homes where at least one parent is working (Addy, Engelhardt, & Skinner, 2013). While the United States economy continues to show signs of recovery from the Great Recession, the economic outlook for many low-income, underemployed families is bleak. The earnings gap between those who are able to obtain education leading to higher level skills and those who cannot continues to grow (The Anne E. Casey Foundation, 2005; Roberts, Povich, & Mathers, 2012-2013).
To address these issues, many human services programs, including the Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood (HMRF) program, seek to help individuals build their capacity to obtain and keep employment. Through a set of activities known as economic stability and workforce development (ESWD), HMRF grantees work to improve the economic well-being of children and families through employment and career advancement.
To support organizations in implementing effective ESWD services, OFA has developed a conceptual framework for guiding HMRF programs in establishing and strengthening systems to support participants in achieving economic stability. The framework is designed to help HMRF grantees more effectively organize their services for maximum impact and to strengthen partnerships with other community organizations that seek to help low-income families in find, retain, and advance in employment. This framework, called A Community-Based HMRF Workforce Strategy, links key concepts of economic stability with specific strategies that programs and participants can employ.
Based on the conceptual workforce strategy, this toolkit provides suggestions and resources regarding key case management and service delivery components. Together, those components can meaningfully help low-income program participants move along a pathway toward job and financial security. The toolkit comprises five modules that align with the key component of the ESWD framework—from intake and assessment to work retention and career advancement. (author introduction)