Hays Legislation that Helps Bring Self-Sufficiency to Those Living in Poverty Signed into Law

Individuals living in poverty will soon have greater opportunities to successfully transition to self-sufficiency due to legislation sponsored by State Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin) that was signed into law on Friday.

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. Rather than being funded with taxpayer dollars, the programs rely solely on private funding 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.

“Eligibility requirements for state assistance are rigid, and we’ve seen time and time again instances where those truly seeking a better life for themselves and their family are forced out of programs before stability and self-sufficiency are achieved at sustainable levels,” said Hays. “The 36-month income disregard included in this new law allows program participants to 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.”

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. “The work Carle Foundation Hospital does in this area is commendable, and I fully expect this new law will increase their success rates. This was the final bill I passed as an Illinois lawmaker, and I am extremely proud that my final bill has the potential to promote real meaningful change in the lives of struggling Illinoisans who are working toward a better life.”

Upon hearing of the bill’s passage, Carle President and CEO James C. Leonard, MD said, “It is truly life-changing when so many people pool their time and talent to improve how the system works so our friends and neighbors can become not only self-sufficient but successful both at work and at home.”

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