Policy & Practice | April 2022
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providers that offer connection points to employers that offer quality jobs.
needs to ensure participants can fully engage with employment and training and unlock their full potential. Employment, training, and work programs can also adopt a human- centered design approach to empower participants to make decisions and set individualized career goals that will move them forward. The human- centered design approach allows for tailored supports that address the unique needs of a participant, which may include transportation, housing instability, child care, or other emergent needs. This approach acknowledges that the participant should be in the driver’s seat on the road to a quality job with family sus- taining wages. United Planning Organization The United Planning Organization (UPO) is a Community Action Agency located inWashington, DC. Serving as the only Community Action Agency in the District of Columbia, UPO provides training and employment through theWorkforce Training Institute for participants in SNAP E&T. Many of the UPO’s SNAP E&T participants come fromWard 7 and Ward 8, both primarily communities of people of color. Tavawyaha R. Batts, Division Director ofWorkforce InstituteTraining, credits the program’s successful outcomes to strong relationships with local employers. UPO plans to continue serving communities of color by offering culturally competent Human services agencies can advance racial equity by prioritizing procurement of service providers with organizational values committed to advancing race equity and with staff and leadership representative of the service population. Human services agencies can also incorporate these providers’ input into policy and practice decisions, which allow for innovation and increased awareness around sup- portive services and employment and training that advances racial equity. training materials and developing resources in multiple languages.
Center for Innovation and Systems Improvement
There’s Room for Everyone at theTable Human services agencies can further promote equity by incorporating providers and participants into stake- holder engagement meetings, helping positively impact policy and practice decisions. This process integrates par- ticipants’ lived experience into decision making, allowing for a more holistic approach to improving racial equity in human services programs. Reference Notes 1. Job Design Framework. National Fund for Workforce Solutions. https:// nationalfund.org/job-design-framework/ 2. National Equity Atlas. Racial Equity Data Lab. https://nationalequityatlas.org/ lab/data 3. Income and Poverty in the United States: 2020. United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/library/ publications/2021/demo/p60-273.html 4. Trends in U.S. Corrections. The Sentencing Project. https://www.sentencingproject. org/publications/trends-in-u-s-corrections 5. Job Quality Tools Library. Aspen Institute. in advance, so they were prepared for each participant. Participants were educated on the companies with which they were interviewing and developed an elevator pitch to help them get started in the interview. Rhode Island partnered with the Center for Innovation and Systems Improvement (CSI) to conduct two virtually based job networking events in FY 2021. Each SNAP E&T participant was given a résumé and matched to three employers of interest. Participants were given two practice sessions online prior to the networking event. Provider agencies assisted participants in real time, as needed. Employers were given the résumés for the individuals they were interviewing
Employers can also play a role in alleviating barriers for people of color by investing in employment and training services such as job coaching, paid internships or appren- ticeships, and skills building, and by offering employment opportunities in quality jobs. Quality employment supports family-sustaining wages, stable housing, and family stability, thereby addressing the racial wealth gap and promoting economic mobility. This connection point creates an opportunity for partnerships that cultivate career pathways that benefit both employers and prospective employees. Providers can promote this by approaching employers with in-demand jobs and discussing labor needs, providing opportunities to engage, and by talking to employers about ways to advance job quality. 5 There is also a strong business case for employers to develop a diverse employee pool. Diversity, coupled with inclusion in the workplace, is a proven asset. Companies with high levels of equity have higher levels of innovation, which can translate into higher profits and shareholder value. Employment Opportunities (CEO) is the largest national nonprofit provider of employment services for people who were formerly incarcerated. The CEO model works to increase employment opportunities and economic mobility by providing immediate paid employment and skills-building services, including job coaching. The CEO also works with partner agencies to assist people returning from incarceration in finding quality jobs that help stabilize their life. Center for Employment Opportunities People of color are disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system. Black men are six times more likely to be arrested thanWhite men. 4 This structural inequity and systemic bias can have a direct impact on the ability of an individual to secure stable employment. The Center for
Brandy Whisman is a Project Associate at the American Public Human Services Association.
Similarly, it is critical for human services agencies to engage with
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