Goodwill® works to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work. The focus areas of the public policy agenda support Goodwill’s mission.
As the year comes to a close, many of us take the opportunity to spend time with friends and family and to help those around us. One way to help more people is by joining Goodwill® to support programs that boost economic stability for low-income individuals and families.
President Obama delivered his final State of the Union (SOTU) address this week and as expected, he did not put forth an aggressive policy agenda for his last year of office. However, the President did touch upon a number of specific areas of interest to Goodwill® and the people we serve.
For policy wonks like me, 2016 is off to an exciting start. Congress wrapped up 2015 without shutting down the government, a threat of falling off a “fiscal cliff” is no longer looming, and there is a new speaker of the House. Of course this year there is a presidential election and a number of lawmakers have announced their retirements at the end of this congressional session, providing an opportunity for Goodwill® advocates to make new connections with policymakers.
Justin Hon was able to use his self-presentation skills in conjunction with additional job training from Goodwill Industries of Southern Oregon (Medford) to find work after facing challenges related to his criminal history. As a result of his job placement, he is now able to be more involved in the lives of his children. Read more and watch as he shares his journey to self-sufficiency.
This week I had the great pleasure of working with Boyd Brown, area director of employment & training of Goodwill Easter Seals Minnesota (St. Paul), as he testified before a Congressional subcommittee. The hearing, which was on welfare reform proposals, specifically involved the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. His testimony provided great insight into the journey of an individual on public assistance, struggling to find a job and the challenges faced by case managers trying to put people to work.
Both the House and Senate are due to complete work on their respective budget resolutions this week, right before leaving town for a two week recess. The budget resolutions don’t become law, but they do set the spending targets for the current fiscal year, creating one possible blueprint for spending and tax policy for the next 10 years.
The reference to a lame duck Congress gives the impression of being powerless, yet in reality the current Congress still holds the power and the duty to act on areas that will impact Goodwill and the people we serve.
The state of Nebraska has employed the assistance of Nebraska Goodwill agencies for a new four-year state pilot program called GoodHire. Through the initiative, employers will receive up to $4,000 of a workers wages for the first six months of employment if the individual receives welfare benefits. Funding for GoodHire comes from state grants through the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, also part of federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).