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Gov. Edwards’ workforce initiative for SNAP participants begins July 1

BATON ROUGE  Tomorrow, July 1, a new workforce initiative created by Governor John Bel Edwards related to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will begin in the State of Louisiana.

Gov. Edwards signed an executive order in April creating new Louisiana standards that will require all Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) who participate in the SNAP food assistance program, but who are not currently working or in school, to participate in job training and assistance programs in order to remain eligible for federal food assistance. The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will administer the new program.

Gov. John Bel Edwards
Gov. John Bel Edwards

“These new requirements are part of a broader commitment to getting Louisianans back to work,” said Gov. Edwards. “I promised last year that Louisiana would create an innovative program to connect SNAP participants with the job training they need to be successful. With these new standards, our state is taking advantage of existing successful Louisiana workforce programs to help train and employ more of our citizens. We’ve developed a Louisiana solution that meets the challenges of Louisiana’s workers, and I am optimistic that we will see more people go into the workforce in the long-term.”

“This is an important step in encouraging many of these able-bodied SNAP clients to take advantage of the practical assistance that is now available to them as they navigate significant hurdles along the job-search path,” said Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Marketa Walters.

Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Ava Dejoie noted, “We are thankful that Governor Edwards recognizes not only how important this practical, personalized job training can be to these SNAP clients, but also that we already have a very successful Business and Career Solution Center network operating around the state which stands ready to help employ these Louisiana citizens.”

This new partnership between DCFS, LWC, and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS), will connect able-bodied SNAP participants to already-successful Louisiana job placement programs to ensure a better success rate, mindful of these participants’ unique challenges. Beginning tomorrow, July 1, DCFS will refer each ABAWD SNAP client to go in-person to participate at one of the 59 Louisiana Workforce Commission Business and Career Solutions Centers, where LCTCS is already partnering with its WorkReady U, a skills assessment and job training program. Upon implementation of these new requirements, Gov. Edwards will be requesting an extension of the current waiver from the federal government, which will help to allow these new Louisiana standards to operate cost-effectively.

For the past 19 years, including every year under the Jindal administration, due to high unemployment rates, Louisiana has qualified for and received a waiver of the federal time limit under SNAP for certain non-disabled adults ages 18-49 living in homes without children under the age of 18, known as ABAWDS. The previous waivers had no job training or workforce initiative combination associated with qualifying for benefits.

The SNAP program provides ABAWDs with a maximum of $194 in food assistance each month. Without this waiver, these ABAWD participants in SNAP are only able to qualify for this food assistance for three months in a 36 month period unless the participant can document satisfactory work, education or volunteer activities, as qualified under federal law. However, under the waiver, federal rules allow Louisiana and other states to create their own work registration requirements, with federal approval.

Louisiana’s SNAP program currently serves approximately 70,000 SNAP participants who qualify as “ABAWDs.” The Department of Children and Family Services estimates that this new workforce initiative under Gov. Edwards’ executive order will affect about 52,000, as some 18,000 ABAWDs already work, are attending school or are otherwise exempt from the federal work requirement.

Click here for a copy of the executive order.

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