Building from a Strong Foundation in Four Counties
California’s initial vision for SNAP E&T is to “provide a pathway to living-wage jobs through third-party partnerships for E&T participants via a four-county collaborative, improving lives and leading to self-sufficiency.” During the past 15 months working with the SNAP to Skills Project, the focus of California has been to build quality programs in the four Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento, and San Francisco. The long-term strategy of the State, led by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), is to expand its SNAP E&T third-party partnership model statewide by building on existing partnerships established by CalWORKs, the State’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, and building provider partnerships in each county. Through its counties, the State plans to explore potential SNAP E&T partnerships with employers, community-based organizations, its Employment Development Department (EDD), workforce boards, and community colleges.
California is making great strides building its SNAP E&T program. All four SNAP to Skills counties are now in the process of implementing their first third-party partnerships after taking the steps to identify, educate, and assess potential partners. New third-party partners that are currently or will soon be providing E&T services include STRIDE Center and Jewish Vocational Services (Alameda), St. John’s Program for Real Change and Greater Sacramento Urban League (Sacramento), and Rubicon and Opportunity Junction (Contra Costa). San Francisco County is in the final stage of an RFP process and intends to contract with one to two CBOs by the summer of 2017. The State is also working to help new providers understand program requirements and increase their program enrollments through improved marketing efforts. In addition, Alameda and Sacramento are already laying the groundwork to bring on additional SNAP E&T partners, potentially to include local community colleges.
CDSS and the four SNAP to Skills counties have worked together and independently to build infrastructure and establish policies and procedures that support SNAP E&T program growth. For example, San Francisco County is utilizing a Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Program Technology Improvement Grant (PTIG) to develop and implement a comprehensive shared case management (MIS) system for SNAP E&T that allows for the streamlining of participant enrollment, tracking, and invoicing procedures. The newly-developed San Francisco County MIS has the potential to evolve into a new statewide system that could reduce the current challenges of having a statewide system with differing MIS systems among its 58 counties.
In addition, CDSS is currently working on a Request for Information (RFI) to develop infrastructure to support a statewide MIS system. In another example of infrastructure building, CDSS established a new SNAP E&T Unit for its CalFresh (SNAP) program, bringing on new staff dedicated to managing a growing SNAP E&T program. Both CDSS and the counties are working together to develop a SNAP E&T Partner Handbooks that will codify policies and procedures governing the program and better guide their partners.