Rep. Chad Hays Champions Legislation to Bring Self-Sufficiency to Those Living in Poverty

State Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin) has passed legislation in the Illinois House that will help individuals living in poverty successfully transition to become self-sufficient members of their community through job skills and healthy family programs.

SB 3232 creates a five-year program within the Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide an intensive workforce training program and a multi-generational healthy family initiative. The programs would be privately funded through not-for-profit organizations. Key to the programs’ success is a provision that allows newly gained income to be disregarded for purposes of program eligibility, so that participants can make real, sustained progress toward self-sufficiency without fear of having to leave their program too soon.

“Becoming financially stable is extremely difficult when those seeking job skills training face harsh eligibility cliffs and are forced out of programs before stability and self-sufficiency are truly achieved,” said Hays. “By allowing for a 36-month income disregard, program participants can focus on gaining valuable workforce and parenting skills that will help them move forward without having to contend with a sudden loss of services if they exceed income eligibility levels. An additional benefit is there is no impact on the state budget for these programs; they are entirely funded by community-based non-profits. I applaud Carle Foundation Hospital for the work they do in this area, and expect the provisions of this bill will increase their success rates.”

According to Hays, the idea for the legislation was brought forward by Champaign-Urbana’s Carle Foundation Hospital, which currently operates two programs that assist low-income individuals with gaining self-sufficiency. The Job Readiness and Learning Program prepares people for full-time employment through a combination of classroom ad on-the-job training for difficult to place entry-level workers within the Carle system, and the Health Beginnings program is a free, Nurse Family Partnership program for pregnant women at or below the poverty level.

“Just as Carle leaders from multiple areas joined forces to support people in our community, Illinois lawmakers from both parties partnered to move this legislation to the governor's desk,” said Carle President and CEO James C. Leonard, MD. “It is truly life-changing when so many people pool their time and talent to improve how the system works today so our friends and neighbors can become not only self-sufficient but successful both at work and at home.”

SB 3232 was approved by the Senate in April and will now be sent to Governor Bruce Rauner for final action.

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