Whole Family Approach to Jobs: Lessons Learned

Since 2017, the John T. Gorman Foundation has partnered in the Whole Family Approach to Jobs, a cross-sector initiative to strengthen New England’s workforce with a two-generation approach. Headed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Region 1 and the National Conference of State Legislatures, the initiative also includes bipartisan lawmakers, businesses, private organizations and individuals.

Its work has three goals in mind:

  1. Identify program and policy alignment opportunities at the local, state and federal levels that would improve employment access and economic stability for low-income families and disrupt intergenerational poverty.
  2. Support state-driven policies and systems change that improve access to and success in education, training and employment for family members.
  3. Create an ongoing regional learning community to develop and implement best practices and policies and systems reforms.

This new report from NCSL documents some of the initiative’s results and lessons learned in its first two years — including broken siloes in state and federal government, enacted legislation to help families, and streamlined supports.

In Maine, the Foundation has worked with other members of the state’s team to analyze and address benefits cliffs — the reduction in public assistance benefits often triggered by increases in a working family’s income. That work has been influential in enacting bipartisan legislation, LIFT and STEP, that makes numerous reforms to clear obstacles for Maine families working to make their way out of poverty. Other developments are sure to come — stay tuned!