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Indiana PYs 2020-2023 Published Approved

Located in:
  • III. Operational Planning Elements

    The Unified or Combined State Plan must include an Operational Planning Elements section that supports the State’s strategy and the system-wide vision described in Section II(c) above.  Unless otherwise noted, all Operational Planning Elements apply to Combined State Plan partner programs included in the plan as well as to core programs.  This section must include—

    • a. State Strategy Implementation

      The Unified or Combined State Plan must include–

      • 2. Implementation of State Strategy

        Describe how the lead State agency with responsibility for the administration of each core program or a Combined Plan partner program included in this plan will implement the State’s Strategies identified in Section II(c). above. This must include a description of—

III. a. 2. C. Coordination, Alignment and Provision of Services to Individuals

Describe how the entities carrying out the respective core programs, Combined State Plan partner programs included in this plan, and required and optional one-stop partner programs will coordinate activities and resources to provide comprehensive, high-quality, customer-centered services, including supportive services (e.g. transportation), to individuals, including those populations identified in section II(a)(1)(B), and individuals in remote areas. The activities described shall conform to the statutory requirements of each program.   

Current Narrative:

To concretize our Goals, Indiana is approaching the Program Activities, Activities outside the Plan, and Services to Individuals comprehensively from the individual perspective of the constituent, rather than segmented by program or funding stream. Rather than taking a program-specific approach in our answers to (III)(a)(2)(A), (B), and (C), we are examining the alignment of programs through the system’s lens to the overarching needs of our target populations. The answers to these three questions will be woven together, rather than fragmented. This approach focuses Indiana not just on specific programmatic requirements and funding streams, but more on how the entire system can provide the supports an individual might need to be successful in his/her career. Pulling from the eligibility criteria of each program, we recommend which services may be prioritized from each programmatic funding stream. The system may not look the same for each person, and it may not provide the same resources for each person. It will be customizable to an individual’s eligibility, needs, goals, and aspirations.

Indiana has a talent development system comprised of wide-ranging and broad workforce development and education programs spanning federal acts, state initiatives, and private investments. This has been beneficial for Hoosiers, as there are multiple resources and supports available to help them access opportunities for lifelong learning and increased personal economic mobility. The proliferation of programs, however, has also created an often convoluted and complex system to navigate. In some instances, we have state, federal, and private programs trying to reach the same populations facing barriers, which has created a system of inefficiencies in delivering resources to Hoosiers. Our current program-by-program approach to serving constituents and businesses has resulted in a profusion of program-specific solutions that may not deliver the full range of services that a Hoosier needs to improve his or her economic mobility. If the talent development system is to better meet our constituents’ and employers’ needs, address the barriers preventing access education and employment opportunities, and ensure our programs are having the intended impact on lives, we must integrate, align, and simplify access to our array of resources and services.

The following sections are structured around meeting the needs of our target populations through a systemic lens and determining how we can best provide resources for Hoosiers to attain greater economic mobility. Within each section, the Core and Program Activities, Activities outside the Plan, and Individual Services are interwoven through the narrative, as a way for Indiana to have a system-wide vantage point to create bridges between our administrative silos. Given that there may be overlapping and intersectionality of eligibility between our target populations, these sections may not be inclusive of every program. As well, individuals may fall into multiple target populations depending on life circumstances. Specific services may be available to an individual contingent on eligibility. This approach focuses on the overarching needs of a target population, rather than diving into each potential case.

Each section will focus on how our programs may address specific barriers unique to a particular target population or subgroup. Many of the Core, Partner, and state programs and services can be provided to almost all of the populations, depending on the individual’s situation; it is the way in which these programs and services can be utilized to support the target population that will differ. By taking this approach, Indiana can differentiate how our programs can directly support and address the distinctive barriers each target population may have. For each target population, the section begins with the foundational programs that someone in that population can receive. The section then diverges into additional programs that could be added on to serve a Hoosier based on his or her individual circumstance. The programs are ranked by relevance to the target population with recommended prioritization of which funds should be directed to which services by state agencies, local workforce boards, and other local community partners.

Through this systemic approach, we seek to establish foundational administrative functions to provide Hoosiers with greater education and training, employment services, and wraparound supports for them to attain greater economic mobility. Through co-enrollment and funding prioritization of our Core, Partner, other federal, and state programs, we can start to build conduits between programs and have full integration of our programs’ activities, individual services and supports, and activities outside of the Plan. Though the aim of this section is to provide a comprehensive view on the workforce and social services systems, it does not encompass all local programs and opportunities throughout Indiana. Our Workforce Development Boards will enhance the foundational level of services outlined in the Plan through local programs and implementation, as well as the utilization of best practices happening at the local level. Each of our Boards may meet the expectations set forth in this Plan differently to reflect regional programs, organizations, and an individual’s needs. Through the local plans, our Workforce Development Boards will explain how they will integrate and maximize local programs, systems, and nuance to achieve an integrated delivery of workforce and social supports.

Co-enrollment is one integral strategy we want to increase usage of to benefit Hoosiers. Each section begins with those foundational programs someone falling into the target population may receive. The underlying strategy for each of those sections is co-enrollment. Co-enrollment means enrollment in more than one program at a time. While we may have Hoosiers co-enrolled in two or more WIOA Core Programs, we will scale this strategy to encompass our Partner Programs, as well as other federal and state programs. The specific benefits of co-enrollment to the individual are:

  • Additional Resources to Provide Training and Income Support: Co-enrolling Hoosiers in more than one eligible program may provide them with additional training and income support and wraparound resources, reducing potential out-of-pocket costs or direct expenses from seeking additional education and training for career advancement.
  • Enhanced Service Delivery: Co-enrollment in WIOA and/or other programs can provide eligible Hoosiers with access to a wide array of vitally important services that both directly and indirectly impact the availability of the opportunities to develop knowledge and skills for career advancement.

One-stop providers and other program administrators will yield the following benefits from co-enrollment:

  • Improved Participant Outcomes: By coupling the various funding streams for training and income support dollars, providers increase their capacity for counseling, case management, wraparound support, and follow-up services, leading to greater performance outcomes.
  • Increased Services to Hoosiers: Co-enrolled workers may gain access to both greater breadth and depth of supportive services, like childcare and transportation, as well as more varied opportunities for education and training, which may not be currently covered because of funding limitations. By pooling various funding streams in a coordinated manner, providers can stretch their dollars further.

As a state, increased economic mobility and aspirational fulfillment of Hoosiers comprise our primary benefits from promoting co-enrollment. Expanding our co-enrollment efforts will also serve as an important tool to maximize the efficiency and impact of each program through responsible stewardship of these funds. By ensuring that individuals are being served through the programs most appropriate for their needs, we can lessen the duplication of services, improve outcomes, and maximize the amount of Hoosiers able to be served through each funding stream. While Hoosiers will be enrolled into more individualized programs, the strategies employed through co-enrollment will allow us to achieve greater impact with our federal and state investments.

Though co-enrollment will benefit both Hoosiers and service providers, there are systematic barriers to co-enrollment that Indiana’s state agencies will need to surmount:

  1. Co-enrollment Requires Enrolling Hoosiers into Programs Individually: Currently, Hoosiers cannot be co-enrolled into multiple programs simultaneously. If we increase co-enrollment, we will also increase administrative time and burdens without any accompanying system-level changes.
  2. Different Eligibility and Assessment Systems: Partner Programs have different eligibility requirements and may have different types of assessment instruments. This may result in participants undergoing multiple rounds of assessment that do not enhance service planning.
  3. Multiple Eligibility Documents and Paperwork: Because in our current system co-enrollment happens consecutively rather than concurrently, increasing this strategy requires separate eligibility documents and paperwork, which will be burdensome to constituents and staff and reinforce the notion of separate delivery systems.
  4. Different Case Management Systems across Programs: Programs often have separate case management systems used at both the state and local level, which rarely communicate information with one another. This can make it difficult for staff from different programs to effectively coordinate case management efforts and expenditures. Separate case management systems for state agencies and programs may send a message that the programs are distinct, segregated, and that seamless integration is not a priority.
  5. Program-specific Staff May Not be Present at the Reception Point for Determining Eligibility: Staff at local one-stop providers or affiliate offices may not have the sufficient information and training to recognize potential eligibility for various partner programs, potentially resulting in insufficient information being provided or incorrect eligibility determinations being made.

Indiana’s long-term solution to operationalizing a seamless co-enrollment system will be through a common intake process and case management system. By 2024, Indiana plans to develop an automated, common case management system that operates across state and federal programs. This will assist with both co-enrollment and the braiding of funds (Strategy 2.12). An intermediary step in this is the development of a common intake process across all programs. Strategy 2.9 details that by 2022, Indiana will collapse all of the intake processes into one common intake process across all programs. This common intake will be accessible both in-person and online. An alternative would be to have a common application with common data elements that meet the reporting needs of all required partners:

  • The first step in this strategy will be to assess the various systems and forms used across all programs to complete eligibility determinations.
  • We intend on prioritizing and expediting this project for our WIOA Core Programs, SNAP, and TANF intake as a first step towards a common intake across all state agencies and programs.
  • This common intake process will include interagency sharing of constituents’ documents (e.g., driver licenses) with a constituent’s sign off through a safe secure cloud network protecting information and complying with regulations.

Strategies Indiana will implement prior to the common intake and case management system will begin to lay the groundwork for co-enrollment:

  • Cross-training all levels of staff (from agency heads to frontline workers) on the WIOA, SNAP, TANF, and financial aid programs, as well as members of local Workforce Development Boards;
  • Active referral of constituents to Core and Partner Programs that address their needs;
  • Various forms of co-location to facilitate both warm referrals and knowledge regarding Core and Partner Programs;
  • Evaluation and integration of assessment systems across Core and Partner Programs;
  • Fully aligning performance goals across Core and Partner Programs for state reports; and
  • Local agreements among Core and Program Partners that increase communication and include arrangements for cost sharing to enable utilization of other funding sources.

Another strategy the Combined Plan emphasizes is co-location. Though co-location is achieved through the physical sharing of spaces in a formal agreement, local Workforce Development Boards can leverage the concept of co-location to create flexible staffing and office structure. Through this flexibility, locals can increase Hoosiers’ accessibility to services by increasing the offering of resources rather than remaining static in location. Additionally, co-location will increase the availability of various services by fostering partnerships among Core and Partner Programs, as well as other partners in the talent development and social services ecosystem (e.g., K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, chambers of commerce, community centers and organizations, and libraries). Formal co-location is one option to expand this strategy, but regions can also explore other options, such as using

  • Creating itinerant staffing models,
  • Embedding staff in various offices and locations, and
  • Setting up mobile or temporary locations in hubs of community activity.

Co-location will increase the variety and flexibility in where and how we locate offices and resources. Additional approaches to co-location are further discussed throughout the sections below.

The chart below helps illustrate how local regions may approach braiding the multitude of resources across our diverse target populations. It offers a visual representation of how each of the following target population sections operationalize our Combined Plan’s Goals to focus on the individual needs of Hoosiers, integrate our systems, maximize our investments, foster relationships in a cross-sector way, and align all of our programs towards creating a healthy, engaged, and talented citizen. When read vertically, the chart delineates how a variety of funding streams can be braided together to address the barriers the population faces to securing stable, sustainable employment. Horizontally, it highlights the primary and eligible target populations for which this program may be used.

A target population identified as ‘primary’ for a program indicates that this program provides foundational resources and services. Target populations will be primarily co-enrolled among these programs, for they are designed for and can be specifically tailored to meet the target populations’ unique barriers and challenges. Exploring how these different programs can address that target population’s barriers occurs in the sections below. Those target populations denoted as ‘eligible’ for a program designates that this program may provide additional services that can be stacked on top of the foundational programs, contingent upon an individual’s eligibility and that person’s long-term goals. Adding these programs to the package of services an individual receives is more customized towards the person’s life situation and circumstances. Programs that identify a specific subgroup within a target population may have more narrow objectives that may fit a particular subgroup due to eligibility requirements or purpose.

Chart 1Chart 2

 : Through Indiana’s Goals, low-income individuals who are eligible for SNAP and/or are within two years of exhausting their TANF benefits, will be able to access their support services and education and training programs in a more direct system. Based on WIOA’s outlined priority of service, low-income individuals are an important constituency for these programs. One of our biggest opportunities for systems integration is with our SNAP and TANF workforce development programs. SNAP Employment & Training, in particular, offers the opportunity for Indiana to braid its talent development system with wraparound supports to increase participants’ chances of economic mobility.

Currently, Indiana Manpower Placement and Comprehensive Training (IMPACT) provides services designed to help recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families achieve economic self-sufficiency through:

  • Education
  • Training
  • Job search
  • Job placement activities

We need to evaluate the overlap of employment and training services offered through IMPACT with similar services offered at our American Job Centers (WorkOnes). WorkOnes are Indiana’s one-stop centers for jobseekers and employers when it comes to career and employment resources. IMPACT, however, can offer much more than job training services to low-income individuals, because it seeks to address a broad range of barriers that may inhibit individuals from seeking and maintaining employment, such as supportive services like transportation reimbursement. Through an individualized Self-Sufficiency Plan for employment, an individual outlines the steps required to become self-sufficient through job search and job readiness activities, work experiences, and appropriate education and training classes. As a way for Indiana to maximize its resources in the talent development space and reduce duplicated efforts, IMPACT will coordinate more closely, as outlined below, with WorkOnes regarding funding training and education.

For Hoosiers eligible for SNAP benefits and/or two years of exhausted TANF eligibility, we intend on co-enrolling those individuals in our employment and training programs offered through our WorkOnes. The federal agency support for the co-enrollment design through WIOA is central to the connectivity design described in this Plan. Co-enrollment between WIOA and SNAP and/or TANF E&T means that the constituent is fully enrolled in both programs and counted in both programs’ performance accountability reporting data. Once an individual qualifies for SNAP E&T, s/he can be referred to the WorkOne to learn about potential education and training programs either through the state, an employer, or a third-party training provider, as well as adult education programs for those without a high school diploma, and the training partner program offerings associated with each. Communication between partners will be ongoing to ensure the constituent’s engagement after the referral is made. After this orientation, WIOA Title I can fund the constituent’s completion of any intake assessment needed to determine his/her current level of educational attainment and skills, training and career goals. SNAP individuals looking for work experience or training can be referred to WorkOnes through WIOA funding, with SNAP E&T able to supplement training costs and cover supportive services. Through co-enrollment in both federal programs, SNAP and TANF resources could be used to support any goals for the participant that cannot be funded by WIOA Title I and Title II dollars. The primary benefit of closer coordination between SNAP E&T offices and Indiana’s workforce system will include us maximizing our federal dollars to provide Hoosiers with the supports they need to attain economic mobility.

A key aspect to effective co-enrollment will be professional development and cross-training for all partners in the workforce system, including SNAP partners, on online technological tools and the impact of work on wages and public benefits. Each agency will lead in-person workshops and online webinars that provide the basic information regarding eligibility and program allowances. These workshops and webinars will be comprised of short modules that give a high overview leading towards a deeper dive of each program; staff members can choose the professional development opportunities based on their current levels of expertise and experience. This ongoing series of workshops will complement the online tool that will serve as a repository of information for each program. This training will be integrated in new employee onboarding as well to address consistency and sustainability even during periods of high turnover. As the State examines restructuring programs within its state agencies, there will be additional opportunities for cross-agency collaboration.

One immediate strategy the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet (GWC) will undertake after the submission of the Combined Plan is to create a subcommittee to examine those with income at 151% to 200% of the federal poverty line and ways to help them attain self-sufficiency. This subcommittee will include Cabinet members, stakeholders, and subject matter experts in the decrease of public benefits. One key topic studied will be the benefits cliff (also known as the cliff effect), which describes what happens when public benefits programs phase down or out quickly and there is an abrupt reduction or loss of benefits for families. The benefits cliff occurs when household earnings increase but perhaps not enough for self-sufficiency to be reached. Often, a small increase in household earnings can trigger loss of eligibility for a benefit. Generally, eligibility for public benefits is below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, with benefits phasing out as earnings increase. The unintended consequences in this design is that an increase in some family’s income may significantly set back their goal towards economic self-sufficiency 

Concerns about the impact the benefits cliff has on Hoosiers’ opportunities for career and wage advancement was a recurring theme that surfaced throughout the GWC’s listening tour throughout the state. Community stakeholders throughout Indiana frequently asked about ways to address this issue with constituents. Researchers are divided on the impact of the benefits cliff. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (FRB) has recently studied the conundrum with marginal tax rates, or the additional tax workers pay as their wages climb. For the lowest-wage workers, marginal tax rates are high not only because of the incremental boost in income tax but also because of the accompanying loss of public benefits. The FRB posits that the current federal safety net system does not promote long-term career development for low-income workers, but instead primarily supports static consumption – to help families buy groceries, pay for childcare, and keep the utilities turned on. Devising policies to lessen the damage from benefits cliffs, therefore, is complex. A few potential approaches mentioned at the Atlanta FRB includes strategies to help low-wage workers plan their finances; phasing out benefits gradually rather than abruptly ending eligibility; and not immediately counting certain income against benefits eligibility.[1]

Contrary to the FRB, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) states that the various changes in the safety net over the past two decades have substantially increased incentives to work for people in poverty. It affirms that working is nearly always substantially better from a family’s financial standpoint than not working. The financial incentive to take a job is unmistakable, counteracting any negative impact from the benefits cliff. The negation of a benefits cliff is due to the fact that it takes an atypical combination of benefits over relatively narrow earnings ranges to create any type of cliff effect; few low-income workers’ circumstances result in those rates. Per CBPP, for the typical worker in poverty, the benefit loss from additional earnings is a very modest fraction of the amount. There are also policy tradeoffs to phasing out benefits gradually: reducing the marginal tax rates for those currently in the phase-out range also extends benefits farther up the income scale and increases costs considerably. The other options is to shrink benefits for people in poverty, so they have less of a benefit to phase out, and thus lose less as benefits are phased down.[2] To ensure Indiana comprehensively understands how the benefits cliff impacts Hoosiers both now and into the future, we will further explore the extent of this with Indiana-specific data and all potential strategies we can implement to negate its effects.

  1. Federal constraints pose challenges to streamlining varying eligibility rules for federal low-income programs. Each of these programs is authorized by a different federal statute written by different Congressional committees enacted at different times by different executive agencies in response to differing circumstances. As a result, streamlining eligibility rules would require changing many laws and coordinating among a broad set of lawmakers and congressional committees at the federal level.[3] The federal government is examining ways to reduce these barriers, primarily through data sharing. Through Governor Holcomb’s work on the White House’s American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, Indiana will identify data barriers and potential solutions. Through a data charter encompassing all of the state agencies on the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, we will understand where and how the benefits cliff happen for Hoosiers. We will be able to correlate the interaction between wages and public benefits to understand what families need to earn to transition away from benefits altogether. Through this subcommittee, we will consider policies and strategies regarding potential cliffs and phase outs of benefits for this population.

Co-Enrolled Programs: Hoosiers who are eligible for SNAP and/or are within two years of exhausting their TANF will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core and Partner Program ActivitiesandIndividual Servicesfor low-income adults.

Title I – Adults (Core Program): Any individual qualifying for SNAP or TANF will immediately be counseled and referred to all levels of career services at local WorkOnes. WIOA Adult can prioritize funding towards the following services:

  • Individualized assessments to determine eligibility for career interests, skill levels (including literacy, numeracy, and English language proficiency), aptitudes, abilities (including skill gaps), and supportive service needs.
  • Career and training services aligned to a designated career pathway, provided concurrently or in any combination, that can include:
    • Comprehensive and specialized assessments of the skill levels, including diagnostic testing, in-depth interviewing, and evaluation to identify employment barriers and employment goals;
    • Employability skills development (learning skills, communication skills, interviewing skills, punctuality, personal maintenance skills, professional conduct) to prepare for employment or training;
    • Education and/or training services (with either TANF or SNAP E&T paying for participant credential exam fees);
    • Financial literacy services;
    • English language acquisition and integrated education and training programs (as supplemental to Adult Education); and
    • Work-based learning activities. These are activities that will allow low-income adults to gain knowledge, skills, and experience as they earn an income. WIOA Adult can help subsidize a variety of work-based learning experiences:
      • Talent tours;[4]
      • Career fairs;
      • Informational interviews with local employers;
      • Job shadow experiences;
      • Virtual exchanges with a business partner;
      • State Earn and Learn programs;[5]
      • A pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship-readiness program;[6]
      • Paid internships;
      • Transitional jobs; and
      • On-the-job training.
  • WIOA Adult can fund any follow-up services, such as individualized counseling regarding the work place, how to successfully navigate the new environment, or any other additional services customized for the constituent.

Next Level Jobs (State Program): Workforce Ready Grants, a state program through Next Level Jobs, will pay the tuition and mandatory feesfor eligible high-value certificate programs at Ivy Tech Community College, Vincennes University, or other approved providers. The grant is available for two years and covers up to the number of credits required by the qualifying program. The qualifying high-value certificate programs were selected based on employer demand, wages, job placements and program completion rate. These programs are aligned with Indiana’s highest demand sectors:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Building & Construction
  • Health Sciences
  • IT & Business Services
  • Transportation & Logistics

Depending on an individual’s career aspirations, this is a state-funded resource WorkOnes can direct low-income individuals towards to help mitigate the costs of training. This state program will cover the costs of training and education, while the WorkOne can provide ongoing counseling and coaching, and SNAP or TANF assists with wraparound services. This may not be the best fit for every individual, since it is restricted to certain sectors and may not provide immediate income relief, but it could be a future opportunity within an individual’s career pathway.

Since those on SNAP have difficulty persisting through longer education and training programs due to income constraints and needs, Indiana hopes to complement our state-funded Workforce Ready Grants with SNAP 50/50. Any non-federal funding (e.g., state dollars, community colleges, philanthropy, or community-based organizations) spent on Employment & Training services for SNAP recipients may receive a 50% reimbursement grant from the federal government.[7] This funding is commonly referred to as “SNAP 50/50” or “50/50 funds,” since the federal government will reimburse 50% of the costs of such activities. SNAP 50/50 funds have more flexibility for what they can be spent on than SNAP E&T (which is the federal allocation for Employment & Training services for SNAP recipients). The graphic below outlines that E&T funding can only offset administrative and direct program expenses; 50/50 funds can reimburse the participant expenses that are related to their education and training opportunities.

What SNAP E&T Can Pay For

[8]

Our state agencies will serve as the program provider and use a reverse referral process for those on SNAP and receiving a Workforce Ready Grant to receive SNAP 50/50 tuition reimbursements. This will require a Memorandum of Understanding between our Department of Workforce Development and Family and Social Services Agency to expedite SNAP E&T enrollments. We can intentionally stack these benefits for an individual to provide the supports necessary for economic mobility:

  • The Workforce Ready Grant will fund the educational program,
  • SNAP can provide food assistance, and
  • SNAP 50/50 will provide support services for direct expenses a person might need to persist (e.g., childcare costs, subsidized income, transportation, housing, etc.).

 

Medicaid, which is explained further below, can provide healthcare coverage while an individual is pursuing postsecondary education, allowing another state program to help with wraparound supports. By connecting our state Workforce Ready Grants to SNAP 50/50 we can maximize our investments in Hoosiers to help them earn credentials that will lead to higher wages and sustainable careers.

Another aspect of Next Level Jobs is Employer Training Grants. Under these grants, employers may qualify for reimbursement of up to $5,000 per employee trained and retained for six months. Each employer may qualify for up to $50,000 per employer. Employers must submit an application, satisfy eligibility requirements and receive and sign a formal agreement obligating grant funding. Employers must offer occupational skills training directly correlated with in-demand jobs in our six high-growth job fields (Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture, IT & Business Services, Building & Construction, Health & Life Sciences, and Transportation & Logistics). The training must be greater than 40 hours and ideally result in a stackable certificate or credential upon completion (onboarding training and informal job shadowing does not qualify). Additionally, the employer must ensure a wage gain at the completion of training for current employees trained to new skill sets; there is no current wage requirement for new hires trained. Employer Training Grants receive $20 million in funding through the state’s budget.

As Indiana endeavors to increase the number of Hoosiers with the skills to move into middle-skill jobs, we can again complement our state programming with SNAP 50/50 funds. We will allocate $500,000 of Employer Training Grant state funding for upskilling SNAP or TANF recipients, augmenting that funding with tuition reimbursements of $250,000 through SNAP 50/50 for supportive services and additional training for SNAP recipients. A dedicated $750,000 in blended state and federal funding apportioned toward increasing access to advanced opportunities for low-income workers will help benefit the state and employers.

Employers can couple the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) with state and federal funding for increasing middle-skilled employees, thus creating a strong talent pipeline to fill positions that require robust experiences and skills. Using SNAP 50/50 for both the Workforce Ready Grants and Employer Training Grants, Indiana can alleviate barriers and improve the number of low-income individuals persisting and completing these programs.

Postsecondary Education Financial Aid (Federal and State Programs): To ensure equitable access to postsecondary education, Indiana has instituted seveal state financial aid programs that are income-based. Indiana ranks fifth in the nation in the need-based grant aid per undergraduate full-time equivalent enrollment, making postsecondary education more accessible and attainable for more Hoosiers.We will increase the co-enrollment of WIOA participants into these financial aid programs. At the state level, we will work with and encourage our WorkOnes to include filing the FAFSA as part of the intake process for anyone seeking postsecondary education and training opportunities. The FAFSA will allow a low-income individual access to both state and federal funding for credit-bearing programs at our community colleges. This will ensure we maximize our current investments and extend our WIOA Adult funding to help subsidize on-the-job and work-based learning wages, as well as other wraparound supports.

Our state agencies will seek to enhance coordination between Higher Education Financial Aid Officers and WIOA caseworkers through cross-training efforts. Because community colleges and vocational schools account for a substantial group of WIOA training providers, improving communication and cross-agency coordination between financial aid officers at colleges and caseworkers at our WorkOnes is one of the biggest opportunities to get more job seekers trained and back to work. As we increase the integration of our workforce systems, we will prioritize professional development for both stakeholder groups regarding WIOA funding and state and federal financial opportunities.

Co-enrollment into the following state programs should be promoted to help support education and training opportunities:

  • Adult Student Grant: Part of Indiana's You Can. Go Back. program. It offers a renewable $2,000 grant to assist returning adult students in starting or completing an associate degree, bachelor’s degree or certificate. To qualify, students must be financially independent as determined by the FAFSA, demonstrate financial need, and be enrolled in at least six credit hours.
  • EARN Indiana (Employment Aid Readiness Network): The state’s work-study program. Students with financial need have access to resume-building, experiential, paid internships, while participating employers receive state matching funds—up to 50% of the student’s hourly wage. EARN Indiana partners with Indiana INTERNnet to better match students and employers and to assist employers in finding the perfect fit for their team.
  • 21st Century Scholarship: Indiana’s early college promise program. It offers income-eligible Hoosier students up to four years of paid tuition at an eligible Indiana college or university after they graduate from high school. While not dedicated towards low-income adults, it is still crucial for those with children to know about, since it is dedicated towards low-income students and can help address generational poverty. Students enroll in seventh or eighth grade, and in high school they participate in the Scholar Success Program and that connects them to programs and resources aimed at helping them prepare for college and career success. Once in college, Scholars receive support to complete their college degrees and connect to career opportunities.
  • The Frank O’Bannon Grant (which includes the Higher Education Award and the Freedom of Choice Award): Indiana’s primary need-based financial aid program for adults seeking an associate’s or bachelor’s degree full-time. It is designed to provide access for Hoosier students to attend eligible public, private and proprietary colleges and universities. Eligibility is based on a student’s FAFSA, and the grant may be used toward tuition and regularly assessed fees.

 

In addition to state aid, low-income individuals can also access federal Pell Grants to help access postsecondary education. Federal Pell Grants usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need. The Pell Grant lifetime eligibility is limited to 12 semesters. The 2019-20 Pell Grant is up to $6,195 for an accredited credit-bearing program leading to a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree.[9] Pell Grants, can be used to cover a variety of costs, generally including tuition and fees, books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses, living expenses, such as room and board, and an allowance for costs expected to be incurred for dependent care for a student with dependents. For those low-income individuals interested in pursuing an education or training program at a postsecondary institution, the Pell Grant could help fund the training costs or wraparound supports, while WIOA Adult serves a gap filler for employment services, work-based learning, or additional supports.

The Federal Work-Study Program could also fund work-based learning experiences for low-income individuals. This program provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money. It is available to either part-time or full-time students. Traditionally, this program has been merely to help individuals pay their education expenses and related costs.[10] Institutions can use the goals of EARN Indiana to expand this federal program as a work-based learning funding source for low-income adults. Redesigning the use of Work-Study directly aligns with Indiana’s goal to have 100% of postsecondary education programs include an experience with career relevance, as well as increase the accessibility of earn and learn programs for our target populations. Because the program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study, our institutions could coordinate with local Boards to provide low-income adults an opportunity to earn and learn using Work-Study funds.

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is another possible federal financial program for low-income individuals. This is awarded to undergraduate students who have exceptional financial need with federal Pell Grant recipients receiving priority. Not all postsecondary institutions participate in this program; the funds depend on availability at the school. Currently, this award is up to $4,000 a year. Both federal and state financial aid are contingent upon an individual filling out the FAFSA form. Because these programs are existing investments into education and training for low-income individuals, we need to include the FAFSA as part of our intake process at the local level. 

Potential co-enrollment of Hoosiers into state financial aid, SNAP, and WIOA Adult will also help that individual maintain his/her benefits throughout his/her education and training. A low-income student can qualify for SNAP while enrolled at least half-time in a postsecondary institution if s/he meets one of these additional criteria:

  • Responsible for a dependent child under the age of 6;
  • Responsible for a dependent child between the ages of 6 & 12 for whom you have trouble securing childcare;
  • Single parent enrolled full-time & responsible for a dependent child age 12 or under;
  • Participates in a state or federally funded work study program;
  • Participates in an on-the-job training program;
  • Works at least 20 hours a week in paid employment;
  • In school through a state or federally approved employment and training program; or
  • Inability to work for health reasons.

Braiding our federal and state funding for higher education and training with WIOA Adult will allow us to capitalize on both investments. Through co-enrollment into federal and state financial aid, we can also stretch our WIOA farther to provide more services to Hoosiers. Through co-enrollment in federal and state programs, Indiana can leverage existing funding to boost Hoosiers’ postsecondary attainment and economic mobility. Allowing Hoosiers to take advantage of existing state and federal funding streams can help Indiana maximize its current investments (Goal 4) and assist Hoosiers find the opportunity that fulfills their aspirations and goals (Goal 1).

Title III – Wagner-Peyser (Core Program): For low-income adults, this program can serve as the resource to fund career counseling (either in person or virtually), labor exchange services, and assistance for job searches and placement. Local Boards could pioneer virtual chatting through a chatbox feature with a career coach as a way to increase accessibility to WorkOnes. Other activities may include:

  • Career counseling and development of individual employment plans (employment goals, achievement objectives, appropriate services, and eligible training providers), which must be mirrored in the constituent’s SNAP Self Sufficiency Plan.
  • Assessment of an individual’s skills and then mapping that to current and future occupational opportunities.
  • Workforce and labor market information (job vacancies, job skills needed, demand occupations with earnings, skill requirements, and aligned career pathways).
  • Customized labor market information for specific employers, sectors, industries or clusters.
  • Business services to employers, employer associations, or other such organizations on employment-related attraction and retention, specifically helping to explain the barriers and unique circumstances of this population.[11]
  • Providing coordination with labor unions, businesses, associations, and the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship to support and develop work-based learning and registered apprenticeship opportunities.

TANF (Partner Program): Key changes introduced in WIOA facilitate integration of TANF and workforce development programs by making TANF a mandatory partner with WorkOnes. Low-income parents who participate in TANF need better, more accessible job training and support services to obtain family-sustaining work. To accomplish this, it is critical to coordinate TANF’s employment programs with federal workforce development services under WIOA.

TANF programs will coordinate with other Core Programs and administrative agencies to provide wraparound support services to assist participants. This could include transportation, childcare, equipment and supplies, and other supports an individual needs in order to access the labor market. The WorkOne, however, can provide the career services and job training for someone receiving TANF through WIOA Title I or Title II (as applicable). The TANF block grant can be used to help cover costs of any certification, credentialing, or examination costs, easing one barrier to Hoosiers earning postsecondary credentials.

Offering a shared job search resource room at a physical co-location of TANF and WIOA services is one way to connect these two programs to serve any overlapping population. Through our co-location strategies, we will embed staffers of different programs across offices in their regions. The mobility of staffers between offices, program locations, and community hubs will help allow for greater awareness and access to more detailed information. For some of our regions, this may include virtual co-location of program staff in various offices. This would allow access to staff of different programs through a chatbox feature, web-based meeting or interview, or another virtual connection program. Through cross-program co-location, we will start communities of practice and services that integrate our workforce and social systems. Co-location will also increase team case management, where TANF and WIOA case managers who serve the same clients have access to a shared case management system to reduce duplication of efforts.

Through our Combined Plan, we will start tracking and reporting WIOA performance measure outcomes for TANF recipients. Because WIOA performance measures account for barriers and differences in participant characteristics, WIOA programs may serve TANF recipients without harming WIOA program performance. The system does not have punitive measures against those hardest to serve, thus requiring the WorkOnes to enter all of an individual’s barriers into the system. This will both allow us to have more transparent outcomes and cater services towards all of the needs an individual might present.

TANF should blend with WIOA Adult funds to help provide the TANF recipient with the proper supports they might need and then recording how and if those opportunities align with our outcomes. Through WIOA Adult, we will provide TANF participants with the education and training that they need to fulfill their aspirations and find economic mobility. As stated in Goal 1, we must tailor the programs to the individual rather than the individual to the program.

SNAP (Partner Program): Through our Combined Plan, Indiana has the opportunity to move SNAP E&T from the periphery of our talent development system into an integrated, central component for serving low-income Hoosiers. Our WorkOnes give priority of service to individuals with barriers to employment, including SNAP participants. SNAP E&T can serve as additional or supplemental funding for tuition and fees, training costs, job development, case management, and any administrative expenses for SNAP recipients. To allow our WIOA Core Programs funds to encompass potential training or wraparound supports, SNAP E&T can supplement any administrative expenses or career coaching costs. Through a braiding of Wagner-Peyser and SNAP E&T for SNAP recipients, we can build a more robust career navigation system for this particular target population across the state.

A critical step in integrating how Indiana administers its federal workforce development programs is to merge SNAP E&T workforce development programs with the WorkOnes for SNAP recipients. Offices for the Division of Family Resources will continue to determine eligibility and refer any SNAP recipient to the WorkOne (either the physical location or the embedded staff members) for career development and training opportunities. This integration will simplify the steps jobseekers must take to access career services. At the WorkOne, an individual’s current skills, education and job experience, career goals, and barriers can be evaluated and determined. Assessments funded by WIOA Adult can help determine the best employment and training services needed and also facilitate the collection of similar data points on participants of each program that can be shared, analyzed and compared. WIOA Title I can fund the administration of this assessment, thus allowing SNAP E&T funds to be maximized for other aspects of career support from the WorkOne.

To maximize our SNAP E&T funding for SNAP recipients, we plan on expanding SNAP E&T third party providers to mirror the Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) developed for WIOA. For SNAP E&T providers to be eligible for WIOA funding, they will have to meet the same requirements as any other provider receiving WIOA funding. Harmonizing our SNAP E&T and ETLP providers will allow those providers, SNAP and WIOA case managers, and the state agencies to collaborate on strategies that link the WIOA and SNAP E&T programs and funding streams at the ground level so that constituents can move seamlessly between funding sources as they seek to advance their skills and careers without losing any benefits or wraparound services. SNAP E&T and WIOA funds could be braided together to fund the tuition and training costs, case management or job counseling, or administrative expenses.

Additionally, for college students are enrolled in a Perkins postsecondary CTE programs seeking a degree, certificate, or technical certificate, these courses and activities will count as employment and workforce training requirement for SNAP. Allowing these students to count their CTE programs towards SNAP E&T requirements will allow low-income individuals to continue to receive food assistance support as they pursue their postsecondary education. Alignment between SNAP E&T and postsecondary Perkins will help address any barriers low-income individuals face challenging training for high wage, high demand, and high skill areas.

To maximize our state investment into education, training, and wraparound supports, Indiana will expand its use of SNAP 50/50 with SNAP E&T and WIOA programs. We currently have two SNAP 50/50 providers, Second Helpings and Ivy Tech Community College-Fort Wayne. Indiana will expand the implementation of SNAP 50/50 to more community college campuses, non-profit providers, and WorkOnes. By matching non-federal money from either state or philanthropic resources, Indiana will be able to draw down more funding to support Hoosiers’ support services as they pursue employment and training opportunities. Additionally, SNAP 50/50 will help expand the offerings of our self-sustaining programs by providing funds for expenses directly related to education and training programs. Through the utilization of SNAP 50/50 reimbursements, in addition to blending WIOA funds for training with SNAP E&T funds for supports for SNAP recipients, Indiana can break down the barriers facing low-income individuals to earning postsecondary credentials and moving towards career advancement.

A key element of the education and training programs for low-income individuals will be work-based learning opportunities, allowing these individuals to both earn an income and advance their technical knowledge. Career pathways for low-income individuals must include short-term credentials of value that will stack towards postsecondary credentials and degrees along a career pathway, options for on-the-job training, and flexible participation options (part-time, extended hours, and online modules). WIOA funds can provide a variety of work-based learning experiences with SNAP E&T filling any tuition gaps.

Through Governor Holcomb’s work on the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, Indiana intends on expanding upon its data share agreements amongst the Core and Partner Programs of the Combined Plan, in particular data between SNAP E&T and WIOA programs. Shared data systems will facilitate the tracking of individuals being served by multiple workforce system programs and their outcomes, as well as compare program demographics and outcomes. This will also help the state gauge the return on investment each program delivers and how these programs improve our constituents’ lives.

One benefit to co-enrollment between SNAP and WIOA is the shared cost of job retention and follow-up services. WIOA can help an individual for 12 months after they are placed in a job – helping with any transitional or unforeseen issues; Indiana’s current policy for SNAP is to continue funding retention services up to 90 days from the start date of employment (the individual must be on SNAP in the month of or month prior to beginning job retention services, and the individual must have secured employment after or while receiving E&T services). Given that work-based learning is crucial for this target population, Indiana intends to align these services and timelines to better serve our constituents (see SNAP Waiver for additional information). If SNAP job retention services (including any education and training costs or wraparound supports) could continue for 12 months after one is off benefits, WIOA can help that individual with counseling and mentoring as they transition into a full-time position. By offering both services for 12 months, we can stair step individuals off of their government benefits, provide them with training opportunities towards valuable, stackable credentials, and maintain any wraparound supports needed as one transitions to a family-sustaining job. Through this integration of services, we can actualize our vision of being a hub for equitable opportunities for lifelong learning and increased personal economic mobility for all Hoosiers.
 

Potential Eligibility: Additional programs and services a Hoosier may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities,Activities outside the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor low-income adults.

Title I – Out-of-School Youth (Core Program): This category encompasses low-income youth ages 16 to 24-years-old who have not attended school for at least the most recent complete school year calendar quarter or are not attending any school. Due to the overlapping eligibility requirements, there are some low-income Hoosiers who are out of school and may be able to qualify for both WIOA Adult and WIOA Youth. Engaging the out-of-school youth population can be extremely challenging, for there may not be a common touchpoint that individual has with the system, as opposed to their in-school peers. In effect, out-of-school youth often have to be sought out. Other challenges include:

  • How to motivate older young adults to engage with the workforce system.
  • How to help them balance life requirements (e.g., rent, food, and bills) with educational opportunities.
  • How to match their career interests and keep them engaged to achieve measureable skill attainment.
  • How to market elements and resources to these young adults in diverse communities.
  • How to provide informational elements on available job opportunities.
  • How to connect them to meet their wraparound needs and supports (e.g., housing, healthcare, and childcare).

Recruiting out-of-school youth presents the first challenge with this target population. While many of our providers currently recruit individuals one-on-one or go to places where young adults hang out, this requires quite a bit of time investment without the return. Through our GWC data charter, we will implement interagency referrals of high school dropouts from the Department of Education to the Department of Workforce Development. DWD can then share those individuals with the local Workforce Development Boards. Additionally, we encourage local Workforce Development Boards to include partnerships between the WorkOnes and school districts to refer students who drop out for services. The WorkOnes can refer or co-enroll that student into an Adult Education program administered through Title II to assist with earning a high school equivalency and any academic remediation. This data connection will help remedy the lag between a student dropping out of high school and receiving supportive elements through a WorkOne.

Many out-of-school youth who exit to homeschooling during their high school careers tend to need Adult Education services later on life. We look forward to seeing how local regions can bridge our school districts with our WorkOnes to receive the names of students who do exit to homeschooling, specifically during their 11th and 12th grade years. For example, JAG students who do not graduate are referred to Adult Education. Leveraging local plans, this strategy can encompass to any/all student who drops out or exits to homeschooling. Similarly, students who graduate with an Alternate Diploma should be referred to Vocational Rehabilitation for assistance with secondary to postsecondary, as well as for potential employment and training services.

A large portion of out-of-school youth may not be engaged in the labor market, and, while a majority might seek out opportunities to connect to training and work, it can be difficult in to sustain that participation and increase the persistence rates of this target population. As a state, we know we will not reach our target of 60% postsecondary attainment or actualize our vision of increasing personal economic mobility and median household income without more intensive engagement with this target population. Some strategies we intend to expand in Indiana include:

  • Providing financial incentives and opportunities for paid training and work through either WIOA or philanthropic dollars.Work-based learning experiences and stipends can be an important source of support to meet the economic challenges these young people face.  The quality of the work experience, however, may also matter. Low-wage work that is not connected to a career pathway or that young people perceive to have no value may not be as effective as work experience that gives them a sense of future advancement and fulfillment.
  • Offering opportunities to feel connected to a community. Many out-of-school youth have experienced some level of trauma or instability in their lives. The presence of caring, committed adults who provide moral and emotional support appears to be an important feature of successful youth programs. Intensive case management, one-on-one assistance, and trauma-informed counseling and practices will help these individuals feel more trusting and connected.
  • Focusing on the socio-psychological elements of resiliency and self-efficacy. In addition to standard employment and education elements through case management, out-of-school youth may need more life coaching to help these individuals become self-advocates. This may involve co-enrolling these youth into Medicaid so they can access mental health elements.
  • Support elements that address a young person’s barriers to participation. Out-of-school youth may present a diverse range of necessary wraparound supports to help them engage in the workforce – from transportation to childcare to housing. The non-academic barriers may be more challenging for an individual to overcome than the academic.

WIOA Youth funds can go towards any of the 14 elements, though local programs can determine what to offer based on the individual’s needs. Since these individuals will be co-enrolled into other Core and Partner Programs, allowing for the blending of funds to meet an individual’s needs, we are recommending that the following elements be prioritized:

  1. Paid and unpaid work experiences, which include: summer and year round employment opportunities, pre-apprenticeship programs, internships and job shadowing, and on-the-job training;
  2. Occupational skill training;
  3. Leadership development opportunities;
  4. Supportive services;
  5. Mentoring;
  6. Follow-up services;
  7. Comprehensive guidance and counseling;
  8. Financial literacy education; and
  9. Entrepreneurial skills training.

To help sustain individuals’ engagement with education and training programs, we will work with local areas and providers to prioritize work-based learning programs and stipends in this funding stream. Title I can help subsidize a work-based learning, pre-apprenticeship, or on-the-job-training experience, as well as fund life coaching, counseling, and any wraparound supports an individual might need. Many out-of-school youth may also be co-enrolled into WIOA Title II, Adult Education, to receive remedial support. Through Integrated Education and Training models funded by Title II, State Earn and Learn programs (a state program outside of the Plan), a pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship-readiness program, a paid internship, or on-the-job training could be supported by braiding WIOA Adult, WIOA Youth, and WIOA Title II together.

Through Indiana’s waiver for WIOA Youth, we currently have flexibility to allocate up to 50% of our funding towards out-of-school youth programs. Our out-of-school youth programs are designed to serve youth (ages 16-24) who have left the traditional school system and are interested in completing the requirements for a high school diploma, or its equivalent. These programs must provide an array of counseling, employability and technical skills development, professional association, job development, and job placement services. These programs also have to include a follow-up period, wherein career specialists are actively involved in intensive one-on-one employer marketing and job development activities to identify job opportunities for participants upon completion of the program. These specialists can also assist program completers in the exploration of postsecondary educational opportunities and show them how to navigate the financial aid process to pursue these opportunities.

JAG’s Out-of-School (OOS) program has had success engaging with out-of-school youth in the Gary region of Indiana. Though the JAG OOS model includes adult education components, the Gary region braids current Adult Education programs into their JAG model through a blended approach. WIOA Youth dollars fund the JAG OOS model for wraparound supports and career coaching for these students, while WIOA Title II funds and provides the educational services.

For those TANF and SNAP recipients under the age of 24, they can also be co-enrolled into out-of-school youth services. These funding streams can augment the WIOA Core Program activities, particularly subsidizing a work-based learning, pre-apprenticeship, or on-the-job-training experience. SNAP E&T can assist with additional tuition and fees, training costs, or administrative expenses in providing services to the co-enrolled SNAP participants. TANF E&T funds can support any wraparound supports an individual might need. By blending these funding sources, a qualifying individual could gain postsecondary education and training preparation activities and work experience, while earning an income.

JobCorps (Federal Program): JobCorps is administered through the US Department of Labor and offers career-technical training and education program for low-income young people ages 16 through 24. Job Corps offers hands-on career-technical training in high-growth industries, as well as assists individuals in obtaining a GED or high school equivalency. As the training in Job Corps is free for individuals, WorkOnes can refer any interested Hoosier to this program as a potential opportunity for additional education.

Title II – Adult Education (Core Program): Based on the individual’s skills assessment, a low-income Hoosier could be automatically referred to Adult Education for assistance earning a high school equivalency, technical training through Integrated Education and Training, or other educational services (e.g., literacy remediation and English language acquisition activities). These services should be provided in coordination with those outlined above in WIOA Adult to facilitate enrollment. Depending on the individual’s needs, Adult Education could fund the bulk of education and training costs, with WIOA Adult serving as the gap filler (and SNAP E&T for SNAP recipients).

WIOA Adult and SNAP E&T (specifically for SNAP recipients) programs and funds can be blended with WIOA Title II to ensure that an individual is accessing the training and educational opportunities needed to advance in his or her career plus the academic remediation necessary to be successful. Integrated Education and Training (IET) is a three-part strategy that balances attention to adult education & literacy, workforce preparation, and workforce training. These three components must be proportionally balanced and have an integrated set of outcomes. One type of IET program is contextual or bridge programs. These programs coordinate academic and occupational instruction by providing basic educational remediation concurrently with, rather than as a prerequisite for, college-level courses. These “bridge” programs are often used in a number of community colleges and are typically one or two-semester interventions that aim to accelerate students’ acquisition of basic academic skills in a supportive learning environment. Sometimes instruction is delivered in the context of an industry or occupation. Through the Combined Plan, local Boards can determine how to braid various funding sources, such as SNAP E&T and Perkins, with Adult Education to create bridge programs.

One type of IET Indiana seeks to expand is connecting Adult Education with pre-apprenticeships and Programs of Study as defined under Perkins. Pre-apprenticeship opportunities could be beneficial work-based learning experiences for this target population. If an individual is co-enrolled into a pre-apprenticeship program interwoven with Adult Education, WIOA Title II could help with funding and academic supports. According to Jobs For the Future, pre-apprenticeships are designed for populations facing significant barriers to obtaining the skills, confidence, and connections they need to be successful. By including Adult Education into a pre-apprenticeship program, the low-income individual is able to obtain with technical and academic education while earning an income. Integration of these programs could provide academic knowledge and skills training tailored to specific jobs and industries for participants, as well as work-readiness skills and a range of supports. Those supports can range from transportation and driver’s license recovery assistance to referrals for childcare. Those participants that persist in the program can progress into a registered apprenticeship. Quality pre-apprenticeship programs incorporate:

  • Connection to existing apprenticeship programs;
  • Approved training and curriculum;
  • Opportunity to earn an industry-recognized credential;
  • Hands-on learning with a career focus; and
  • Access to support services and career counseling.[12]

 

Title IV – Vocational Rehabilitation (Core Program): If a low-income individual has a physical or mental disability that constitutes or results in a substantial barrier to employment, s/he may qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. Through a common intake process, the state will understand the multifaceted needs of an individual and where various programs can serve as scaffolding to our Employment and Training services through WIOA Adult and state programs, like Next Level Jobs. Based on the employment services need, low-income individuals with a disability and seeking employment should be enrolled into an education or training program via the WorkOne. For many low-income individuals with disabilities, the type of employment service and assistance may be best served by our WorkOne system because their barriers may not be disability specialized or focused in their nature. Contingent upon the individual’s needs and barriers, the WorkOne can offer the programming and funding for that person’s employment service, with VR serving as an supplementary support. Co-enrollment into VR could provide the individual with any accommodations or auxiliary supports needed for training, rather than relying on VR to be the sole source of support and funding. These supports can include:

  • Personal and vocational adjustment services,
  • Assistive technologies,
  • Rehabilitation technology,
  • Adaptive aids and devices and any associated training, and
  • Interpreter or reader services.

For those individuals requiring more intensive disability and employment services, VR should be the primary point of contact and service delivery. Those individuals who are seeking employment services irrespective of their disability should be supported predominantly by the WorkOne or co-enrollment into multiple programs. By allowing VR employment services to focus on the intensive and specialize employment and disability services aligned to an individual’s needs, the WorkOne becomes more accessible for more Hoosiers. We are shifting the system to serve more individuals based on their needs and barriers, rather than a singular characteristic. This long-term systemic shift will allow us to stretch our dollars further and serve more Hoosiers. Focus on the intensity of the need and barriers will increase Hoosiers’ access to a wider array of employment services to attain career sustainability and longevity. To maximize these dollars, we need to integrate this program as one workforce system resource for our individuals with disabilities and not the only resource.

For any individual with a disability, VR can also help fill any funding gaps for wraparound supports that person may have – including childcare, transportation, or modifications of homes and vehicles. Additionally, VR business services can augment Wagner-Peyser activities to help coach employers through the unique aspects of the hiring and on-boarding process for a low-income individual with disabilities, such as understanding any accommodations that may be necessary. Specifically, VR’s small business program can complement Wagner-Peyser and business service staff at WorkOnes to promote non-traditional hiring practices.

Carl D. Perkins Act (Partner Program): Career and technical education (CTE) programs at Indiana’s community colleges prepare students for particular industries. Postsecondary CTE includes the following industry clusters: Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, Science, Engineering & Technologies, Manufacturing & Processing, Business, Management, and Administration, Architecture & Construction, Health Services, Information Technology, and Transportation and Logistics. Postsecondary CTE programs also work closely with businesses to offer work-based learning experiences. Currently, the majority of postsecondary Perkins funds goes towards facilities and equipment costs. As Indiana encourages more co-location of state government agencies and programs, we aim to see this occur in our education spaces, as well. This will allow us to maximize our investments in equipment, facilities, supplies, and instructors between our secondary and postsecondary institutions. It will also build greater articulation in the CTE space among secondary, adult education, and postsecondary programs. Local regions can determine how to increase co-location partnerships through varied schedules, hours, and instructors

As postsecondary and secondary CTE programs co-locate and pool their funding for equipment, facilities, and supplies, this will allow us to direct Perkins funds towards career counseling for low-income individuals who attend a postsecondary CTE program. Through postsecondary Perkins funds, we can expand our work-based learning activities for low-income adults to include career exploration and engagement experiences at businesses and postsecondary institutions. Connecting WIOA Core Programs to Perkins allows us to make career coaching more experiential for low-income Hoosiers.

Indiana also intends to intertwine our Perkins funds with our WIOA Core Programs to help create robust career pathways that will span all CTE and technical education programs. Connecting the career pathways under WIOA and the programs of study under Perkins into one concept allows Indiana to serve both adults and high school students through coordinated, aligned, and structured pathways leading towards recognized postsecondary credentials. Additionally, similar career pathways and programs of study in the same sector could share employer partnerships and industry-recognized credentials identified as most relevant for their local economies. They would leverage each other’s industry connections and other strengths, reducing duplication, maximizing funding, and building wide-reaching partnerships.

State Earn and Learns (State Program): As mentioned above, State Earn and Learns is a state-recognized apprenticeship program. This can be another option for work-based learning, where the WorkOne, with SNAP E&T funding as needed (specifically for SNAP participants), provides the funding for the educational components while an employer pays for the work-based learning portion. Additionally, we can include Adult Education as a partner in our SEALs to provide additional funding and academic supports for the program. It offers low-income individuals a different kind of IET to remediate academic skills, obtain technical knowledge, and gain a quality work experience and income throughout the process. This blends public and private dollars to get an individual the necessary skills and training for career advancement. Enrollment in this program would also be contingent upon an individual’s interests, since these are also focused in Indiana’s priority sectors.

Medicaid (Federal Program): Indiana offers several health coverage options to qualified low-income individuals and families, individuals with disabilities, and the elderly with limited financial resources. Each program is designed to meet the medical needs of that specific group of individuals, and each uses a different set of measures to determine if a person qualifies for that program. For low-income adults, Indiana offers coverage to those whose income is at or below 138% of poverty and for pregnant women the income cap is 250% of poverty.

To qualify, applicants must meet four main eligibility criteria:

  • Income/household size: This applies to both earned income (e.g., wages) and unearned income (e.g., Social Security Disability payments). Income limits that are adjusted to account for the number of household members.
  • Age: Certain programs are designed for people in specific age groups.
  • Financial resources/assets: Different programs count different resources/assets. Resources/assets are not counted for the following groups: children, pregnant women, members with only family planning services, former foster children up to age 25, and/or Health Indiana Plan members.
  • Medical needs: Specific medical needs may determine eligibility and which program can best serve your needs.

Indiana uses a single application for all health coverage programs, therefore applicants do not need to know the specific program(s) they are eligible for. Applications are processed through the Family and Social Services Administration. Applicants may apply online or in-person at a DFR office. The applicant to can apply for health insurance separately or in conjunction with a SNAP/TANF application.

 

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement these practices through strategic use of WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. Where applicable, local Boards or community organizations can coordinate with state agencies to apply for SNAP 50/50 FNS, which will serve as a 50% federal match for any state or philanthropic funding dedicated to SNAP recipients receiving Employment and Training services.[13] These practices are Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, the practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our low-income adults in surmounting their unique circumstances.

Catapult Sectoral Partnership (Sector Program): Conexus, one of the state’s primary sector partners, also offers training programs that receive outside funding, which could help alleviate some of the cost burdens to WIOA Adult. Again, these are sector-specific and would need to match an individual’s aspirations and interests. Catapult Indiana, which is administered by Conexus, is an industry-led advanced manufacturing training program. The program teaches basic work skills for introductory manufacturing jobs to provide pathways to meaningful careers. Catapult Indiana seeks to prepare Hoosiers for some of the more than 85,000 jobs in Indiana that remain unfilled due to the skills gap. The program is a 160-hour course over four weeks that provides participants with hands-on, paid training opportunities that may result in manufacturing positions.

Indiana Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (Sector Program): The Indiana Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (INFAME) is a partnership between community colleges and regional manufacturers whose purpose is to implement career pathway, apprenticeship-style educational programs that will create a pipeline of highly skilled workers. Administered by the Indiana Manufacturers Association, the INFAME initiative can be customized to fit different regional programs and partnerships with local schools, trade schools, and colleges. This initiative works closely with Indiana’s educational institutions to establish and endorse programs and curricula that develop the skill-sets students need for Indiana’s manufacturing jobs, specifically an Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT). The AMT program is a standardized and structured approach to preparing an individual for a career. This five-semester technical program integrates both on-the-job training and classroom education, offering the individual the opportunity to earn wages and college credit while concurrently earning their diploma. INFAME also assists companies in creating work-based learning and training opportunities, such as registered apprenticeships, internships and on-the-job training.

Skillful Governor’s Coaching Corps (State and Philanthropic Program): The Skillful Governor’s Coaching Corps is a partnership between philanthropy and the State of Indiana to scale the availability of high-quality career coaches throughout the state. The Skillful Coaching Corps is a training program designed to strengthen and support exceptional career coaching professionals so they are better equipped to connect people to effective training opportunities and quality jobs. As a complement to the Corps, Skillful creates online Skillful Coaching Communities of Practice, which provide coaches with opportunities to network, share, and learn from each while they explore new resources and methods for helping clients. Skillful is advancing skills-based approaches for more effective coaching and offers resources and training to career coaching professionals. Skillful can serve as an accompaniment to Wagner-Peyser, enhancing career coaching practices. Skillful coaches can help bridge the gap between individuals and employers, complementing WorkOne’s Business Services divisions.

YES Indy: In Central Indiana, there are over 30,000 young adults, ages 16 – 24, who have disengaged from secondary education or graduated but are disconnected from the workforce. These Opportunity Youth present an opportunity to re-engage with education and training programs to find success in middle-skills job. To re-engage this population, EmployIndy (the Workforce Development Board serving all of Marion County) launched YES Indy REC in 2018. One part of Yes Indy is the Power Huddle, which connects young adults with mentors and helps them move from a fixed to a growth mindset. These activities help the Opportunity Youth develop their employability skills by working on community projects, while also receiving adult mentoring, career navigation, life coaching, job readiness training, adult education services, and trauma-informed social and emotional violence prevention counseling. After completing the Power Huddle, the young adults enroll in YES Indy, where they are connected to a career navigator, who will offer ongoing support and guidance as they enroll in education and training or transition into the workforce. Once they are part of YES Indy, other resources are available, such as transportation, financial guidance, temporary housing, re-entry services, counseling, and more.

[1] Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 2019. Over the Cliff's Edge? Incentives Hurting Low-Wage Workers.

[2] Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 2016. It Pays to Work: Work Incentives and the Safety Net; Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 2014. Policymakers Often Overstate Marginal Tax Rates for Lower-Income Workers and Gloss Over Tough Trade-Offs in Reducing Them.

[3] Government Accountability Office, 2017. Federal Low-income Programs: Eligibility and Benefits Differ for Selected Programs Due to Complex and Varied Rules.

[4] Talent tours can occur at a business or higher education campus and can provide exposure and orientation about various local career opportunities in various sectors and career paths. The tours can include presentations and information on potential industry offerings. This is adapted from Michigan Works! as a best practice.

[5] Indiana’s State Earn and Learn (SEAL) programs are certified through the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship. They are structured, but flexible, programs that include an education component and OJT component. SEALs focus on employer needs, with sustainable partnerships and embedded industry certifications. They can last from weeks to years depending on employer, education, certification, or licensing requirements.

[6] Pre-apprenticeship programs are connected to a registered apprenticeship. They can offer foundational experiences providing training, support services, and career navigation assistance to help people gain the skills and awareness they need to enter and succeed in apprenticeships and related careers.

[7] Annual federal funding for 50-50 funds is not capped.

[8] US Department of Agriculture, 2016. SNAP to Skills: Why Now is the Time for States To Build Their SNAP E&T Programs.

[9] The amount one receives is dependent upon his/her Expected Family Contribution, the cost of attendance, his/her status as a full-time or part-time student, and his/her plans to attend school for a full academic year or less. 

[10] Typically, one will earn at least the current federal minimum wage. However, one may earn more depending on the type of work and skills required for the position.

[11] Strategies to help employers retain this target population are offered in the toolkit from the Cincinnati Women’s Fund.

[12] Jobs For the Future, 2017. Getting Started with Pre-Apprenticeship: Partnerships.

[13] Reimbursement grants can cover supportive and wraparound services provided to SNAP recipients. Funds eligible for reimbursement can include state or local funds or non-federal funds put up by third-party providers offering E&T services (which  include job search/job search training, workfare or community service, work-based learning, self-employment programs, educational programs – including postsecondary, basic skills, or English language acquisition education, vocational employment, and job retention for 90 days post-employment). State funds that serve as Maintenance of Effort will not qualify for SNAP 50/50.

Nationally, there are 18.5 million veterans living in the United States today. Sixty-seven percent of veterans are 55 or older, and roughly one-third of veterans served during the first Gulf War era or in military engagements since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. More recent veterans are more diverse in terms of gender, race and ethnicity than those who served in prior wars: nearly 18% of veterans who enlisted since 2001 are women, and recent veterans are more likely to identify as African-American (15.9%) or Latino (13.7%) than past generations of veterans. The largest difference between veterans and nonveterans is among those between 25 to 34 years old. Male veterans in this age range have an unemployment rate of 6.1%, compared to 4.5% for their peers. Female veterans between the ages of 25 and 34 have an unemployment rate of 7.9%, compared to 4.5% for their nonveteran counterparts.[1]

The Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 409,836 veterans lived in this state as of 2017. Marion County has the largest number of veterans at more than 51,600, though with 3,200 veterans, Miami County boasts the largest percentage of veterans (9%) relative to its total population. Approximately half of the state’s veterans are 65 and older, and the majority of Hoosier veterans served during the Vietnam War with veterans with military services post-1990 as the second largest constituency.[2]

 

When Hoosier veterans served

 

Though high school diploma attainment is higher for veterans than nonveterans, postsecondary attainment rates, particularly bachelor’s degrees, is lower.

Educational attainment of veterans and nonveterans

 

Veterans, however, tend to report higher incomes with the median annual income for veterans overall exceeding $37,600, compared to about $28,500 for nonveterans. This trend continues for median incomes disaggregated by gender.[3]

 

Median income of veterans and nonveterans by gender

 

Veterans are employed in a variety of fields throughout the US. Among male veterans, management, transportation, and sales are the most common occupations, whereas female veterans are concentrated in office and administrative support, healthcare, and management occupations.[4]

There is an estimated 478,900 spouses of active-duty military personnel in the US. Over half of all military spouses are 30 years of age or younger. Approximately 66% of military spouses are in the workforce, including 41% in the civilian labor force, 13% in the armed forces, and 12% currently unemployed and seeking work. Military spouses are educationally and occupationally diverse. Eighty-four percent have some college education or higher; 35% have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Similar to our other target populations, unemployment rates are strongly associated with levels of education obtained. Higher levels of education are generally associated with lower rates of unemployment among military spouses.

Military Spouse Unemployment Rate

 

Nearly one-third of active duty military spouses, however, are underemployed or earn less than their civilian peers.

The underemployment of military spouses also correlates with postsecondary attainment – whereas higher levels of education are associated with a reduced chance of unemployment for military spouses, higher levels of education are associated with a higher likelihood of underemployment.

Military spouse employment

[5]

 

The economic impact of unemployment and underemployment of military spouses is estimated to be between $710 million to $1.07 billion per year, including lost income tax and unemployment and healthcare benefits paid. Employment of military spouses plays a significant role in the decision of military members to leave or remain in the service.[6]

Licensure tends to present a significant hurdle to securing employment for both veterans and active duty spouses. Because of the frequent moves and short periods to prepare for new state requirements, spouses can find it difficult to transfer their licenses across states. Their employment can be negatively impacted by the time it takes to acquire a license, uncertainty about the transferability of their licenses across state lines, and lack of temporary or provisional licensure options. For active duty military spouses, barriers to securing stable employment stem from frequent moves and parenting responsibilities, as well as obstacles with varying state occupational licensing regulations.[7] Spouses of National Guard members, however, may face different obstacles to employment unrelated to relocation. One example might be the struggle and expense of balancing work and home responsibilities.

Though manyUS veterans transition to civilian life successfully, some veterans face transitional challenges, particularly around securing employment. The challenge of finding a job contributes to the 70% of veterans who report significant difficulty making the transition back to civilian life. Underemployment may be a particular challenge many veterans experience when returning to civilian life, due to their training in a variety of occupations and professions while enlisted.[8] Licensing regulations can put veterans at a disadvantage when competing for work with a similarly skilled person trained in the private sector. These challenges can lead to or exacerbate mental and physical health problems. Veterans returning to civilian life may also find it difficult to translate their skills to the workforce and market themselves for job opportunities. The Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, enacted in 2011, enabled the US Department of Labor to create a crosswalk of military skills and occupations that correlate with potentially 962 civilian occupations.[9] Despite the skill overlap, veterans still face difficulties translating these experiences to civilian occupations.

The primary barriers veterans and active duty spouses face to stable employment include:

  • The costs of training or education programs: Many veterans who received military training in an occupation may only need a few additional hours or an additional course before being eligible for a license or getting up-to-date with the civilian industry. They are often required to start over, incurring both financial and opportunity costs. Similarly, military spouses with different state licenses or degrees often must spend both time and money to comply with specific Indiana rules and regulations. Military spouses may choose to not seek licensure once they move, perpetuating unemployment and underemployment trends with this population.
  • The applicability of prior training: Occupation-specific training completed as part of military service may not be recognized in licensing regulations or as part of degree tracks. Though many military occupations provide similar training equivalent to civilian occupational training, ensuring clear and consistent recognition of applicable skills and experiences can facilitate a veteran’s transition into the civilian labor force. As occupational licensing regulations vary between states, occupational standards may also differ. Due to the frequency of their moves, military spouses are often faced with the requirement to reapply for licensure for the occupation or profession in which they already work, because their current license or work experience may not be sufficient. The Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) has worked with Ivy Tech Community College to identify best practices related to the transferability of skills to be used toward credit via prior learning assessments. This is something that we will continue to look to improve.

 

Compounding the issues of communication and process, a significant lack of data at occupational licensure boards regarding the licensing of military spouses can create additional barriers for this target population. Improving data collection for this population could lead to identifying board members who are responsive to this group and any remaining barriers to licensure.[10]

To increase the effectiveness of our services for Hoosier veterans, Indiana has centralized the point of contact for these individuals within state government. The Indiana Department of Veteran Affairs (IDVA) serves as one of the primary connection point for Hoosier veterans; IDVA is generally the first point of contact for many veterans seeking services the state may offer. WorkOnes, however, also serve as first responders to veterans’ needs. Both WorkOnes and IDVA guide veterans towards services available through federal funds and specialized staff members, as well as other social services through both federal and state agencies. IDVA and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) have an established partnership agreement outlining responsibilities to streamline programmatic efficiency and reduce potential duplicative efforts. For example, the Indiana National Guard partners with DWD, INVets, and IDVA to help bring exiting military to Indiana to continue their service in the Indiana National Guard and attain employment at hundreds of Indiana’s top businesses.

County Veteran Service Officers are trained and certified by IDVA. Through this unique partnership between DWD and IDVA, we can ensure that staff of our principal workforce development programs for veterans, Jobs for Veterans State Grant (Partner Program), as well as the County Veteran Service officers, are cross-trained to be aware of all of the services that veterans may be eligible for, so they can be referred and directed appropriately. As we look to further this relationship, we can begin to better understand the quality of the referral processes and related outcomes for the services provided to veterans.  

Co-Enrolled Programs: Hoosier veterans and eligible spouses will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities, Activities outside of the Plan,andIndividual Services.

Jobs for Veterans State Grant Veterans (Partner Program): JVSG funds are provided to states to fund two staff positions: the Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program Specialist (DVOP) and the Local Veterans’ Employment Representative (LVER). These positions are fully integrated into the WorkOne offices. The DVOP’s role is to provide individualized career services to veterans with significant barriers to employment (SBE) through case management; the LVER’s role is to facilitate employment opportunities and advocate on behalf of veterans with employers. Specialists under JVSG understand veterans and their skills, as well as the barriers they have, and can connect them with the right WIOA services and employers that align to that individual’s aspirations and goals. The six significant barriers to employment, as identified by the Department of Labor, are:

  1. A special disabled or disabled veteran, as those terms are defined in 38 U.S.C § 4211(1) and (3);
  2. Homeless, as defined in Section 103(a) and (b) of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11302(a) and (b));
  3. A recently-separated service member, as defined in 38 U.S.C § 4211(6), who has been unemployed for 27 or more weeks in the previous 12 months, i.e. the term of unemployment over the previous 12 months remains 27 weeks; however, the requirement of 27 consecutive weeks is eliminated;
  4. An offender, as defined by WIOA Section 3 (38), who is currently incarcerated or who has been released from incarceration;
  5. Lacking a high school diploma or equivalent certificate; or
  6. Low-income individual, as defined by WIOA Section 3 (36).

The following additional populations, as identified by the Secretary of Labor, meet the criteria to receive services from a Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP) specialist:

  • A Veteran between the ages of 18-24;
  • A Transitioning Service Member in need of intensive services;
  • Wounded, ill, or injured Service Members receiving treatment at military facilities, or Warrior Transition Unit; and
  • The spouses and family care-givers of such wounded, ill, or injured service members.

JVSG programs fall into two basic categories:

  1. Universal access programs: For workforce programs that operate or deliver services to the public as a whole without targeting specific groups, veterans, and eligible spouses must receive priority of service over all other program participants.
  2. Programs that require prospective participants to meet specified eligibility criteria: These criteria identify basic conditions that each and every participant in a specific program are required to meet. A veteran or eligible spouse must first meet any and all of the statutory eligibility criteria in order to be considered eligible for: a) enrollment in the program; b) receipt of priority for enrollment in the program; and c) priority for receipt of services.

In addition to the eligibility criteria that all participants are required to meet, some programs also have priorities that establish a rank order to be observed in enrolling or serving participants. These priorities can be either statutory or discretionary.

Priority of service for veterans requires veterans in the WorkOne to be served when they walk in the door or make contact with the workforce system. Priority of service in WIOA Core Programs is applied in the selection process for training, as required in the Veteran Program Letter and set out under WIOA. Once a non-covered person has been both approved for funding and enrolled in a training class, however, priority of service is not intended to allow a veteran or eligible spouse who is identified subsequently to “bump” the non-covered person from that training class. The application of priority of service varies by program and depends on the eligibility requirements of the particular program.

There are two priority of service programs that apply to veterans and eligible spouses:

  1. Programs with Statutory Priorities: Some programs are required by law to provide a priority or preference for a particular group of individuals or require the program to spend a certain portion of program funds on a particular group of persons. For programs with this type of mandatory priority, program operators must determine the status of each individual veteran or eligible spouse and apply priority of service as described below:
  1. Veterans and eligible spouses who meet the mandatory priorities or spending requirement or limitation must receive the highest level of priority for the program or service;
  2. Non-covered persons who meet the program’s mandatory priority or spending requirement or limitation then receive the second level of priority for the program or service;
  3. Veterans and eligible spouses outside the program-specific mandatory priority or spending requirement or limitation then receive the third level of priority for the program or service; and

Non-covered persons outside the program-specific mandatory priority or spending requirement or limitation then receive the fourth level of priority for the program or service.

  1. Programs with Discretionary Priorities: Some qualified job training programs may include a focus on a particular group or make efforts to provide a certain level of service to a particular group without the authorizing law specifically mandating that the target group be served before other eligible individuals. Because a discretionary focus of this type is not a statutorily mandated priority or targeting requirement, veterans and eligible spouses must receive the highest priority for programs or services with a discretionary targeting requirement. Non-covered individuals within the discretionary targeting group then receive the second level of priority; those outside the discretionary targeting group receive the third level of priority. With respect to priority of service, the only feature that distinguishes discretionary targeting programs from universal access programs is the additional application of the discretionary targeting criterion to the non-covered persons.

Priority of Service is the responsibility of each WorkOne employee with oversight and compliance provided by the JVSG staff. Reports and on-site reviews ensure focus on the requirements. JVSG staff work closely with all WIOA partners to provide the most effective service to veterans and other eligible individuals possible. Priority of Service is monitored by the State Veteran Coordinator, or other assigned state veteran staff, who examines statewide, regional, and local policies and procedure.

WIOA partners can receive additional information from the State Veteran Coordinator in order to align initiatives for the most effective delivery to veterans.

JVSG has positively impacted many Hoosier lives. One veteran in Region 3, Tim McQueen, entered the workforce as a Production Supervisor. Tim served in the US Army as an Aviation Mechanic from February 1993 to May 2015. He had 100% VA service connected disability, creating a significant barrier to employment. After being discharged from the service in 2015, Tim was able to secure a stable, quality job at Fort Wayne Dana Inc working as a Production Supervisor. In June 2019, however, Tim was facing unemployment and quickly needed to find a stable job as an operations manager. After several rejections, Tim decided to receive individualized career services from DVOP and WorkOne staff assistance to better his chances in finding a full-time operations manager position. The DVOP and WorkOne staff helped him with his job search, résumé, and interviewing skills. These enhanced employment skills made him more marketable for management positions. Tim quickly picked up these skills and landed a Production Supervisor position.

Leroy Guire, an Army Veteran, was chronically homeless living in Peru, Indiana. The DVOP was contacted by WIOA case management to see if there was any assistance available to this veteran. WorkOne and DVOP collaborated to ensure Leroy qualified for the Government Cell Phone Program, as well as found him transportation to Kokomo, where there are more supportive services for homeless veterans. The DVOP arranged for Leroy to stay at a local shelter in Kokomo temporarily until a more permanent residence could be obtained. WIOA staff and DVOP worked diligently to provide Leroy with intensive services, including resume writing and supportive service referrals. Staff were able to quickly assist Leroy in finding job placement at EAC Scrap Processing in Kokomo through the recommendation of Local Veterans’ Employment Representative (LVER), given Leroy’s extensive welding skills and background. The DVOP also assisted Leroy in obtaining a potential apartment at the Kokomo veteran supportive housing unit. Leroy was able to get back on his feet through the integrated, coordinated efforts between our WIOA and JVSG programs.

Next Level Veterans (Public-Private Program): Thisis a statewide program that unites public and private organizations to recruit, employ, and connect military personnel to Indiana. INVets(Philanthropic Program) operates as the recruiting arm of Next Level Veterans and seeks to connect qualified candidates to good jobs and resources.Next Level Veterans connects with DWD through a partnership agreement to work with Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives (LVERs) and local business services teams in the WorkOne Offices across the state. Indiana built a network to reach out to veterans to make this a leading state that can assist with the transition process for veterans and eligible spouses with a team of support. 

As part of our strategies to make Indiana an attractive place for veterans and families to move to, Indiana has instituted some financial deductions that apply solely to this target population:

  • Property Tax Deductions: Veterans may be able to deduct designated amounts from the assessed value of their property.
  • Reduced cost Hunting and Fishing licenses: Any Hoosier resident who is service-connected disabled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs may purchase a license to hunt and fish in Indiana for a reduced fee.
  • State Income Tax Deduction: Beginning for the 2019 taxable year, a percentage of income as a result of military pensions was tax exempt. This percentage increases gradually, until 100% of military pension benefits over $6,250 will be tax exempt. This paired with a number of other programs will help with the recruitment and retention of military veterans to the state of Indiana.
  • Honor Our Veterans: Up to $5,000 provided to veterans who relocate to Indiana for employment opportunities. The funds help defer the costs of relocating to Indiana. The Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority administers this program.

Additionally, military spouses holding a valid teaching license issued by another state may be issued an Indiana initial practitioner license or a practitioner license in the same content area or areas they are licensed in another state, provided they were required to pass a content licensure exam in order to obtain their out-of-state teaching license. Given that licensure reciprocity can be a barrier for this target population to find employment, exploring how this practice can be expanded to other licensure areas may reduce undue burden military spouses might face when trying to find employment upon relocation.

Title I – Adults (Core Program): States and local areas must apply priority of service for veterans and eligible spouses in WIOA Programs, who also are included in the groups given statutory priority for WIOA Adult formula funds.[11] Veterans and eligible spouses who are also recipients of public assistance receive first priority for services provided with WIOA Adult formula funds.

Coordination regarding any additional education and training that veterans may need to enter the type of employment they are seeking is of vital importance. Leveraging the education benefits under the GI bill can reduce any unnecessary burden on WIOA Adult training funds.

Through the DVOP and LVER Program, Indiana assists Hoosier veterans with their transition from the service to civilian life. The DVOP is specifically trained in tailored training and job placement opportunities for veterans with service-connected disabilities. LVERs coordinate services provided for veterans, including identifying training and employment opportunities. Indiana has 25 DVOPs and 20 LVERs total that are located around the state regions.

The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program assists veterans with service-connected disabilities to prepare for careers. A variety of services are provided, including educational benefits. These programs operate in coordination with the DVOP specialist. This program requires extensive follow-up, and the DVOP specialist must be allowed sufficient time to do the case management and intensive services to meet the requirements of the US Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program.[12] The DVOP specialist, in coordination with the state workforce board and AJC staff, will provide VR&E Service local labor market information that may be used to develop training programs that have the best probability for positive employment outcomes. The VR&E Service will work with the DVOP specialist to obtain specific employment opportunities from the state workforce board and AJC staff. Enhancing these relationships will also make it more likely that Veterans with disabilities are directed into short-term occupational training programs that have the potential to transition them into high-demand jobs faster.The DVOP specialist can work closely with the LVER and WorkOne Business Service Team (BST) to ensure that veterans under Chapter 31 programs who are “job ready” receive priority in their job search and job referrals, as determined by the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) at the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Title I-Dislocated Worker (Core Program): This funding stream can help separating service members enter or reenter the civilian labor force. Generally, a notice of separation shows a separation or imminent separation from the Armed Forces, qualifying as a notice of termination or layoff to meet the required dislocated worker definition. The definition of Dislocated Workers includes military spouses who have lost employment as a direct result of a relocation to accommodate a permanent change in the service member’s duty station. Military spouses also may qualify if they are a dependent spouse of a member of the Armed Forces on active duty whose family income is significantly reduced (as determined by the state or local area), because of a deployment, a call or order to active duty, a permanent change of station, or the service connected death or disability of the service member. By including these stipulations in the cross-training efforts for staff in both workforce and social services programs, Indiana will increase the awareness of services for veterans and their spouses and enhance their experience at WorkOnes.

Title III-Wagner-Peyser (Core Program): The majority of veterans can be served by Wagner-Peyser funded activities.Due toIndiana having an established Jobs for Veterans State Grant, Wagner-Peyser eligibility is automatically established for veterans. The veteran accessing services is co-enrolled into services based upon their eligibility following any limitations of state policy. Wagner-Peyser can supplement JVSG and WIOA Adult funding in the area of career coaching (either in-person or virtually) and exploration activities. Wagner-Peyser staff or funding can also help offer information to veterans and spouses regarding current labor market trends and job availability, future employment needs in sectors and industries, and connections to employers and employer associations where opportunities may exist. They can also assist with navigating licensure requirements and regulations unique to Indiana to lessen this employment burden. All Wagner-Peyser staff can consult and work closely with LVERs to ensure information and counseling is aligned and integrated with all outward facing business services.

Both Wagner-Peyser and LVER staff will promote the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)as a strategy to encourage more businesses begin to hire and retain this target population. Additional eligible populations have been added since, with the Internal Revenue Service adding veterans to WOTC in 2011. The WOTC reduces employer cost by providing federal tax credit for private, for-profit employers to encourage hiring of individuals from our target populations. Based on the 2019 data from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Employer Survey of approximately 1,000 businesses, many Hoosier employers may be unaware or unsure of the WOTC.[13] Increasing awareness and understanding of the benefit of this federal tax credit can help increase non-traditional hiring practices of our target populations, including veterans. The WOTC was created in 1996, as a way to incentivize hiring certain populations. The credit is 25% of qualified first year wages for those employed at least 120 hours and 40% for those employed 400 hours or more. Employers maintain all hiring decisions and there is no limit to the number of new hires who can qualify for the tax savings. Increasing awareness of opportunities for employers to take advantage of this program by hiring veterans will be included as an employer engagement outreach strategy and will be highlighted in staff cross-training activities.

Postsecondary Financial Aid (Federal and State Programs): The primary federal financial aid program for veterans is the GI Bill. The GI Bill allows for members of the military to earn education benefits for themselves and their families. These benefits will assist service members and eligible veterans with covering the costs associated with higher education or training. Updated after September 11, 2001, the new GI Bill will pay for veterans’ full tuition & fees at school, provide a monthly housing allowance while they are enrolled in school, and give up to $1,000 a year to use for books and supplies. The following education and training options are approved under the Post-9/11 GI Bill:

  • Correspondence training
  • Cooperative training
  • Entrepreneurship training
  • Flight training
  • Independent and distance learning
  • Institutions of higher learning undergraduate and graduate degrees 
  • Licensing and certification reimbursement
  • Vocational/technical training, non-college degree programs 
  • National testing reimbursement
  • On-the-job training
  • Tuition Assistance top-up 
  • Tutorial Assistance
  • Vocational/technical training[14]

For approved programs, the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits. For those Indiana institutions of higher learning participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program, additional institutional funds may be available for veterans’ education programs without an additional charge to the GI Bill entitlement.[15] Wagner-Peyser staff and other career service and veterans recruitment specialists can help inform veterans as to how their interests connect to high wage, high demand occupations in Indiana and the necessary education and training so veterans are able to take full advantage of this benefit.

In addition to institutional financial aid and Indiana’s other state programs (e.g., the 21st Century Scholars and Frank O’Bannon programs), Indiana has two state financial aid programs to assist veterans and their families with the costs of higher education:

  • College Tuition for Children of Disabled Veterans: The Tuition and Fee Exemption for Children of Disabled Veterans provides up to 100% of tuition and regularly assessed fees for up to 124 credit hours at all Indiana public colleges and universities at the undergraduate resident tuition rate. This program is delivered through the Commission for Higher Education. There are residency and other requirements for the program.
  • College Tuition for Purple Heart Recipients: The Tuition and Fee Exemption for Purple Heart recipients provides up to 100% of tuition and regularly assessed fees for up to 124 credit hours at all Indiana public colleges and universities at the undergraduate resident tuition rate. This program is delivered through the Commission for Higher Education. There are residency and other requirements for this program as well.

Veterans Upward Bound is offered through the TRIO Programs (Federal Program) at institutions of higher education. This program is designed to motivate and assist veterans in the development of academic and other requisite skills necessary for acceptance and success in a program of postsecondary education. The program provides assessment and enhancement of basic skills through counseling, mentoring, tutoring and academic instruction in the core subject areas. The primary goal of the program is to increase the rate at which participants enroll in and complete postsecondary education programs. Local programs funded through Veterans Upward Bound are also expected to assist veterans in securing support services from other locally available resources, such as the Veterans Administration, state veterans agencies, veteran associations, and other state and local agencies that serve veterans. Other services include:

  • Education or counseling services designed to improve the financial and economic literacy of participants;
  • Instruction in reading, writing, study skills, and other subjects necessary for success in education beyond high school;
  • Academic, financial, or personal counseling;
  • Tutorial services;
  • Mentoring programs;
  • Information on postsecondary education opportunities;
  • Assistance in completing college entrance and financial aid applications;
  • Assistance in preparing for college entrance exams;
  • Information on the full range of Federal Student financial aid programs and benefits;
  • Guidance and assistance in alternative education programs for secondary school dropouts that lead to receipt of a regular secondary school diploma
     
    Vincennes University is currently the only Indiana institution offering Veterans Upward Bound. In the latest fiscal year, it received approximately $290,000 to provide services for 125 students.[16] Exploring opportunities to scale this program or combine it with existing veteran’s programs on college campuses could provide additional support to veterans enrolling in our state’s postsecondary institutions.
     
     
    Potential Enrollment: Additional programs and services a Hoosier may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Activities outside the PlanandIndividual Servicesfor adults in this target population.
                                          
    Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (Federal Program): To assist veterans who are homeless, DVOPs and LVERs have a joint responsibility to provide services to grantees (either in-house at not-for-profit organizations or through partners in the community) and to foster collaborative efforts with WorkOne staff to enroll all Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HVRP) participants into WIOA programs and workforce training programs and ensure a staff member (funded through either WIOA or DVOP) is present during the enrollment process to facilitate accurate reporting and strong working relationships.
     
    HVRP grantees and local WorkOne staff are encouraged to share information on their services and ensure new staff members are fully trained on services and enrollment requirements. When appropriate, the DVOP specialist will be assigned to a current, local HVRP awarded grantee to facilitate this partnership and co-enrollment process. The staff member assigned to facilitate co-enrollment will also be the primary point of contact to ensure HVRP grant requirements are accurately reflected in Indiana Career Connect. Additionally, LVERs will combine employment efforts with the primary point staff member to connect co-enrolled HVRP clients to employers and employment opportunities. While employer outreach is primarily accomplished by a WorkOne’s business services, the LVERs must be included as an active member of that team.
     
    As Indiana evaluates in which agencies its workforce development programs are housed, we seek to amend our Combined Plan to include related programs under the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (which will include the Community Development Block Grant program, Continuum of Care, Family Self-Sufficiency program, Jobs Plus program, and the Community Services Block Grant employment and training activities). The amendment will reflect effective combined planning processes between the public workforce system and homeless services system to streamline employment services for this target population. Federally, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is requiring more employment services to be provided to this population, thus adding these complementary services through a future amendment will improve outcomes for the homeless response system. Potential strategies will include:
  • Ensuring the identification, offering, and implementation of a robust menu of employment and support services for adult and youth homeless jobseekers;
  • Helping identify and implement effective referral processes between the workforce and homeless services systems and partners;
  • Coordinating the workforce programs and support service resources offered through IHCDA; and
  • Determining the unmet needs of participants served and how WIOA and IHCDA services and funds could be braided together.

Registered Apprenticeships (Federal Program): The Presidential Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeships in America established in June of 2017 set forth a specific goal of expanding access to apprenticeships for members of the armed services. In 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) awarded $183 million to support sector-based approaches to expanding apprenticeships on a national scale in key industry sectors in order to embrace the vision set forth in the Executive Order. The DOL grants will increase access to apprenticeship among all Americans, particularly veterans, military spouses, and service members re-entering the civilian workforce. Purdue University was one of the grantees with a target population including military/veterans.[17] We will look to create more partnerships between INVets and employers that provide registered apprenticeship opportunities. There are approximately 900 registered apprenticeship programs across the state, many of which are in high wage, high demand fields. Connecting the skill sets that veterans have gained during their time of service to these opportunities will provide a benefit to both veterans living in Indiana and our employer community.

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement these practices through strategic use of WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. Where applicable, local Boards or community organizations can coordinate with state agencies to apply for SNAP 50/50 FNS, which will serve as a 50% federal match for any state or philanthropic funding dedicated to SNAP recipients receiving Employment and Training services. These practices are Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, the practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our veterans and eligible spouses in surmounting their unique circumstances.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) (Institution of Higher Education Initiative): The Office for Veterans and Military Personnel at IUPUI created a holistic review process specifically for applicants with background in the military. IUPUI streamlines their processes and assists military personnel and their families in order to get benefits processed quickly. The University is dedicated to integrating and working with veterans regarding their education benefits from the GI bill, tuition assistance, state benefits, and scholarships to IUPUI and community resources.

Indy Women in Technology (IWiT) (Community Program): Indy Women in Technology partners with Ivy Tech Community College – Central Indianapolis to offer tuition free classes in a career path towards a technological career. Additionally, supportive services, such as childcare and transportation, are available depending on eligibility. The state’s veteran’s resource hub highlights IWiT and its dedication to serving veteran women and families.

Hamilton County Court System: In 2015, Hamilton County’s Veterans Court was established. The court has helped nearly 75 military veterans struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues who have faced criminal charges. When the court was founded, Hamilton County had the second-largest VA-service connected population in Indiana. The court system connects veterans to services available through the state workforce system and allows these veterans to have continued support beyond involvement with the court and continued assistance with on-going needs.

IDVA Grants for Veterans’ Services (GVS) (State Program): Grants for Veterans’ Services originated through an act of legislation, and ultimately was designed to provide funding for organizations that serve veterans. These funds are to go toward the pursuit of leaving no veteran behind. The grant amounts are typically between $25,000 and $100,000. In 2019, IDVA solicited bids for the GVS program focused on funding Homeless Veteran programs. Thirteen grants were awarded totaling over $900,000 for implementation in 2020-2021.

[1] National Conference of State Legislatures, 2018. Barriers to Work: Veterans and Military Spouses: Improving Access to Licensed Occupations for Veterans and Military Families.

[2] INContext, 2018. Veterans in Indiana.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Blue Star Families, 2018. 2018 Military Family Lifestyle Survey Results.

[6] Blue Star Families, 2016. Social Cost Analysis of the Unemployment and Underemployment of Military Spouses.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Castro et al., 2014. The State Of The American Veteran: The Los Angeles County Veterans Study.

[9] National Conference of State Legislatures, 2018. Barriers to Work: Veterans and Military Spouses: Improving Access to Licensed Occupations for Veterans and Military Families.

[11] US Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration, 2017. Priority of Service for WIOA Adult Funds.

[12] 38 USC Chapter 31.

[13] Indiana Chamber of Commerce Annual Employer Survey. 2019 Survey Results.

[14] US Department of Veteran Affairs. Education and Training: Post-9/11 GI Bill.

[15] US Department of Veteran Affairs. Education and Training: IN State Yellow Ribbon Program Information 2019 – 2020.

[16] Indiana TRIO. Indiana TRIO Programs.

[17] Department of Labor, 2019. Overview of the Scaling Apprenticeship through Sector-Based Strategies Grant Program and Project Summaries.

 

: Unemployed Hoosiers face situational struggles that differentiate them from the other target populations. Some unemployed Hoosiers who file for Unemployment Insurance may also qualify as dislocated workers and have access to Rapid Response services. DWD receives a WARN notice, which then triggers a Rapid Response team to provide information to those about to be unemployed. Others may face additional barriers to employment that have led to long bouts of unemployment. The situations leading to unemployment can vary tremendously; similarly, unemployed individuals are also diverse in terms of their existing skills, previous occupations and industries, and prior wage levels. Despite this diversity in previous experiences, unemployed individuals tend to share a common experience with social-emotional stress that often creates barriers to their next option. Reactions to unemployment can include:

  • Significant psychological anxiety.
  • Little information about current labor market opportunities.
  • Uncertainty or inexperience in navigating public assistance and the workforce system.
  • No recent experience in looking for a job.
  • Substantial work experience and work maturity in one specific career or sector.
  • Existing occupational skills that may be obsolete or not in demand in the local economy.
  • Financial and emotional crisis due to lack of income and substantial household financial obligations.
  • Inability to reskill due to lack of livelihood or the desire to simply get back to work.

To help address the psychological barriers, in addition to the financial ones, we must find ways to support our unemployed Hoosiers beyond mere compensation. This will cross the workforce and social services system to allow for better connections between our Unemployment Insurance and WIOA programs and SNAP and health insurance. Intentional co-location and active referrals among these programs will facilitate unemployed Hoosiers in receiving the help they need to get back on their feet, emotionally and financially, while state agencies work to connect our intake processes and case management systems. Referrals between different programs must be collaborative and coordinated. WorkOnes, community partners, schools, and institutions of higher education can liaise referrals for constituents as person-to-person, rather than merely program-to-program. Both follow-through and follow-up are necessary to ensure quality for the constituent. Additionally, providing information regarding various programs and benefits to unemployed Hoosiers can help people learn where there might be resources they can use. Because not all Hoosiers file for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits in-person or even receive unemployment insurance, we must determine how we can leverage our different agencies and infrastructure to market information to Hoosiers in need.

Some Hoosiers in this category may also fall into the low-income target population above, as well as overlap with other target populations. This section specifically directs strategies and programming for those who are receiving UI benefits or do not have any current employment. Better integration between UI programs and Indiana’s economic development strategies will help Hoosiers reenter the workforce quickly and efficiently. Because the UI program is often the first workforce program accessed by individuals, it serves as one of the principal entries to the workforce development system for individuals in need of services. As a key workforce development system partner, UI will continue to improve its coordination with other Core and Partner Programs to align to talent development strategies.

In pursuit of the goal of more seamless and fully-integrated career, training, and follow-up services, we intend on increasing the co-enrollment of those individuals on UI for longer periods into WIOA programs through our WorkOnes. As Indiana develops a common intake process by 2022, we will increase our co-enrollment of UI claimants into Wagner-Peyser, as well as explore other ways to increase co-enrollment in workforce and social programs based on individuals’ needs. Similar to low-income individuals, the programs and funding streams can focus on meeting various needs of unemployed individuals through a coordinated approach. In addition to those on UI or who do not have any current employment, we are including the long-term unemployed, homeless individuals, and Migrant/Seasonal Farmworkers as subgroups of this target population. 

Co-Enrolled Programs: Unemployed Hoosiers will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities for those adults.

Unemployment Insurance (Partner Program): UI helps people who have lost their jobs by temporarily replacing part of their wages while they look for work. The system is funded by taxes collected from employers on behalf of working people to provide them with income support if they lose their jobs. UI provides up to 26 weeks of benefits to unemployed workers, replacing approximately half of their previous wages. The current average for Hoosiers to receive UI benefits is 12.3 weeks. Our current rate of claimants who exhaust all 26 weeks of UI is 19.3%. The maximum weekly benefit an individual can receive is $390.  Indiana’s average UI benefits have ranged from $290.41 to $301.53 in 2019. 

One aspect of this system is to help people get back to work through reemployment interventions. While these interventions do focus on the programmatic goal of reducing an individual’s time on UI benefits, our Plan incorporates strategies to ensure UI staff are working with workforce development partners to find long-term solutions with sustainable wages for constituents.  

Currently, Indiana is complying with the obligations of the UI system as a required partner in the one-stop centers. This allows Hoosiers to file a UI claim in-person at the WorkOnes, receiving technical assistance, if needed, as well as potentially obtain reemployment activities. These activities include:

  • Providing access to the WorkOne’s programs or activities through the one-stop delivery system, in addition to any other appropriate locations;
  • Using a portion of funds available for the program and activities to help maintain the one-stop delivery system, including payment of a portion of the infrastructure costs of WorkOnes;
  • Entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the local Workforce Development Boards, as it relates to the operation of the one-stop delivery system; and
  • Participating in the operation of the one-stop delivery system consistent with the terms of the MOU, requirements of authorizing laws, the Federal cost principles, and all other applicable legal requirements.

Through the Combined Plan, we can explore additional areas of opportunity for improved integration of the UI program into the one-stop delivery system. Because reemployment is a hallmark of the UI program, integrating it more comprehensively with our WIOA programs may allow for greater resources and efficiencies to be offered to unemployed Hoosiers. Currently, Hoosiers are required to enroll in Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA) upon filing for their fourth week of unemployment in order to maintain their UI eligibility.

The federal RESEA program has four purposes: 

  1. Reduce UI duration through improved employment outcomes;
  2. Strengthen UI program integrity; 
  3. Promote alignment with the vision of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act; and
  4. Establish RESEA as an entry point to other workforce system partners.
     
    Currently, RESEA services in Indiana include:
  • UI eligibility assessment, including review of work search activities and referral to adjudication if an issue or potential issue is identified;
  • Provision of labor market and career information (job vacancies, job skills needed, demand occupations with earnings, skill requirements, and aligned career pathways);
  • Support in the development of individual reemployment plan (employment goals, achievement objectives, appropriate services, and eligible training providers);
  • Provide information and access to WorkOne services, referrals to reemployment services and training;
  • Provide at least one additional career service, such as: referrals and coordination with other workforce activities; job search assistance; information about supportive services; information and assistance with financial aid resources; financial literacy services; and career readiness activities, including employability skills development and assistance with resume writing and/or interviewing techniques.

Though these activities, particularly job search assistance, have demonstrated positive reemployment outcomes, they tend to work primarily in the short-term and have varying impact on longer term employment and earnings. Lighter-touch interventions, such as profiling and changing employer contact requirements, also yield more limited benefits with this population. While these types of activities are effective at reducing receipt of UI benefits, they have limited impacts on longer term outcomes for UI recipients.[1] Reemployment assistance to UI claimants is predicated on the earliest return to meaningful, full-time employment. Indiana will continue its strategy is to build on the current co-enrollment between UI and Wagner-Peyser and assist unemployed Hoosiers with timely, accurate benefits to support career navigation, job searching, or education and training programs. Local community organizations and state programs can promote participation in a relevant and robust menu of supports and services applicable to the individual’s needs.

Indiana has started to improve the connectivity between UI claimants and workforce development. Over the next four years, we will continue this strategy for linking UI with the workforce system. One step towards greater symbiosis between these two programs is to develop a system that correlates activating a Wagner-Peyser application upon filing for UI. As we move towards greater systems integration by 2024, Indiana will develop a procedure that allows for contact information and work history of UI claimants to be shared with the regional Workforce Development Board through DWD. Once the local Board has an individual’s information, WorkOne staff can reach out with reemployment resources and opportunities, which may include information regarding Workforce Ready Grants, Adult Education classes, SNAP, and other potentially useful sources, earlier in that person’s unemployment period. For those individuals who come to a WorkOne to electronically file a UI claim in-person, the process for offering career counseling and support at that moment for interested individuals should be standardized through local plans. Many WorkOnes currently leverage that time to provide the individual with resources that may be helpful for reemployment, but these practices should be consistent throughout the state. Building upon our current work of connecting these two systems, these strategies will help our workforce regions become aware of who is unemployed sooner than our present timeline.

Once an individual is required to be in RESEA, s/he has a group orientation followed by a one-on-one meeting with a case manager at a WorkOne. Through co-location efforts, we encourage local regions to potentially explore additional places for these meetings to occur, depending on the individual’s needs and interests. Community colleges, libraries, local businesses, and other locales might provide an opportunity for the individual and case manager to discuss, visit, and consider resources and options unique to that location. It might also offer more convenience to the individual. At this meeting, the constituent must develop a Reemployment Plan customized to their needs, which could be informed by the resources or opportunities a partner location might offer. Additionally, if the individual needs other services, such as SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid, meeting at a Partner Program’s office might facilitate that individual’s co-enrollment into multiple programs at one time.

During the one-on-one meeting, the case manager and individual determine what types of support s/he might need, which includes receiving labor market information, attending a workshop or job fair, or another reemployment supportive activity. UI claimants are required to complete three work search activities at a minimum each week to maintain their UI benefits. At a minimum, one additional reemployment activity will be added to the reemployment plan to meet the needs of the individual RESEA claimant. The US Department of Labor’s research illustrates that lighter-touch interventions may not be the best approach for this target population. As the state considers the RESEA compliance requirements, we encourage local regions to develop more robust and individualized career coaching for UI claimants. Leveraging local plans, our WorkOnes can determine ways to intensify the supports given to these individuals, perhaps by advising different or more activities. Through co-enrollment in Wagner-Peyser and RESEA funds, increasing the frequency of follow-up services may be an option suitable for WorkOnes. As well, if an individual is co-enrolled with WIOA Adult or SNAP E&T (for those receiving SNAP, specifically), additional funds could be used to support the career counseling for this individual. Some more intensive strategies case managers can recommend through RESEA that may help bridge the gap to full-time employment are:

  • State Earn and Learn programs;
  • A pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship-readiness program;
  • Paid internships;
  • Transitional jobs; and
  • On-the-job training.

Indiana is currently studying the effectiveness of RESEA services, analyzing the different regional implementation approaches and related outcomes. DWD is studying who we are serving with RESEA and what those services may be. It will examine the efficiency of partnerships, grants, interactions with case managers and businesses, and programming offerings in helping people reenter the workforce. With the completion of this study, the state will readjust, if needed, RESEA requirements to increase the effectiveness of this program’s goal.

Jobs for Hoosiers, a state program complementing RESEA, selects those individuals who are least likely to exhaust their UI benefits. These individuals go through a similar process as RESEA, but they usually are only required to meet with a case manager and self-select to use WorkOnes resources. It allows case managers to differentiate the level of support based on those who are in more need. Employing this program allows case managers and programs to target those who are more likely to be unemployed for longer stretches of time. Our local regions receive both this and RESEA funding to support staffing these programs.

Title I – Adults (Core Program): For those UI claimants requiring additional training, employment services, or wraparound supports, they will be referred to the local WorkOne, either through direct outreach from the WorkOne or as recommended by their RESEA case manager. WIOA Adult can prioritize funding towards the following services:

  • Comprehensive and specialized assessments to determine eligibility for career interests, skill levels (including literacy, numeracy, and English language proficiency), aptitudes, abilities (including skill gaps), and evaluation to identify employment barriers and employment goals;
  • Employability skills development (learning skills, communication skills, interviewing skills, punctuality, personal maintenance skills, professional conduct) to prepare for employment or training;
  • English language acquisition and integrated education and training programs (as supplemental to Adult Education under Title II);
  • Work-based learning activities; and
  • Follow-up services, such as individualized counseling regarding the work place, how to successfully navigate the new environment, or any other additional services customized for the constituent.

Title III – Wagner-Peyser (Core Program): Currently, our WorkOnes co-enroll UI claimants in Title III of WIOA. We will continue this co-enrollment process to help offer unemployed Hoosiers the full range of employment services. Staff funded under the Wagner-Peyser Act must ensure that UI claimants receive the full range of reemployment services, including labor exchange services, which are necessary and appropriate to facilitate their earliest return to work. Local WorkOnes can braid Wagner-Peyser funds with RESEA, as needed, to help administer any career services specified in either UI or WIOA, including:

  • Career counseling and navigation tied to the RESEA-funded employment plans (employment goals, achievement objectives, appropriate services, and eligible training providers).
  • Provision of labor market and career information (job vacancies, job skills needed, demand occupations with earnings, skill requirements, and aligned career pathways).
  • Support in the development of an individual reemployment plan (employment goals, achievement objectives, appropriate services, and eligible training providers).
  • Customized labor market information for specific employers, sectors, industries or clusters.

Through Wagner-Peyser funding, we connect unemployed individuals with job openings via the WorkOne business services team. As part of the labor market information, case managers can also use this connection to identify upskilling/reskilling opportunities that can help secure someone a job. As this can be an efficient way to reemploy Hoosiers, we encourage local Boards to detail how they can enhance this current referral system to be more effective for both unemployed individuals and businesses needing talent. 

Potential Enrollment: Additional programs and services a Hoosier may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities,Activities outside the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor adults in this target population.

SNAP and TANF (Partner Programs): An unemployed individual may also co-enroll in SNAP and/or TANF for food assistance or cash assistance, respectively, depending on his/her eligibility. TANF and SNAP E&T are key programs for our low-income Hoosiers to access education and training opportunities, as well as wraparound supports. We much recognize, however, that SNAP and TANF cannot be one-size-fits-all programs; those receiving food or cash assistance will have different needs depending on their personal histories and needs. To focus on the individual’s needs and goals, we must personalize SNAP E&T and TANF by:

  • Improving assessments and individualizing expectations to reflect recipients’ strengths and needs;
  • Allowing job-ready recipients with recent work history to engage in an independent job search;
  • Coordinating SNAP E&T funding and activities better with our WorkOnes to maximize investments and resources;
  • Directing SNAP E&T funding towards providing robust, comprehensive career counseling and coaching for SNAP participants;
  • Valuing both core and non-core activities that align to the individual’s goals and needs;
  • Connecting recipients to career pathways programs that lead to employment in high-wage, high-growth industries;
  • Allowing recipients who have the skills needed to attend college to do so, and providing them with the supports they need to succeed (such as federal and state financial aid);
  • Allowing unemployed out-of-school youth to participate in full-time sector-based contextualized literacy training and preparation for high school equivalency exams as pathways to career-focused credentials;
  • Expanding subsidized work-based learning models that have been shown effective in connecting recipients to work (such as on-the-job training and pre-apprenticeships); and
  • Redesigning state policies regarding sanction processes to encourage non-participating recipients to engage in work activities and reduce the number of people who are churned from the caseload.

Title I – Youth (Core Program): Some unemployed Hoosiers will be under the age of 24 and may qualify for out-of-school youth services. This funding stream can augment those activities listed under WIOA Adult, particularly subsidizing a work-based learning, pre-apprenticeship, or on-the-job-training experience. It can also serve as a gap filler for any supportive services. These funds can blend with other housing and wraparound supports an individual might need. Prior to a common intake and case management system, referrals can assist with getting unemployed out-of-school youth into job trainings programs. If that youth is filing for UI benefits, the WorkOne can reach out with information about programs or local organizations that can help support that individual, or vice versa. Through greater interconnectivity between our programs at both the state and local levels, we seek for more Hoosiers to take advantage of the resources for which they may be eligible.

Title II – Adult Education (Core Program): Based on the individual’s skills assessment, an unemployed Hoosier will be automatically referred to Adult Education for assistance earning a high school equivalency, technical training, or other educational services (e.g., literacy remediation and English language acquisition activities). These services will be provided in coordination with those outlined above in WIOA Adult to facilitate enrollment. Depending on the individual’s needs, Adult Education could fund the bulk of education and training costs, with WIOA Adult serving as the gap filler. Blending WIOA Adult and Adult Education could help fund the following specific strategies for integrating people experiencing long-term unemployment or homelessness into the workplace and promoting career advancement include:

  • Supported Employment;
  • Alternative Staffing;
  • Contextualized Basic Adult Education;
  • Career Bridge Programs; and
  • Sector-Based Training.

Title IV – Vocational Rehabilitation (Core Program): If an unemployed individual has a physical or mental disability that constitutes or results in a substantial barrier to employment, s/he may qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. Through a common intake process, the state will understand the multifaceted needs of an individual and where various programs can serve as scaffolding to our Employment and Training services through WIOA Adult and state programs, like Next Level Jobs. Based on the employment services need, low-income individuals with a disability and seeking employment should be enrolled into an education or training program via the WorkOne. For many low-income individuals with disabilities, the type of employment service and assistance may be best served by our WorkOne system because their barriers may not be disability specialized or focused in their nature. Contingent upon the individual’s needs and barriers, the WorkOne can offer the programming and funding for that person’s employment service, with VR serving as an supplementary support. Co-enrollment into VR could provide the individual with any accommodations or auxiliary supports needed for training, rather than relying on VR to be the sole source of support and funding. These supports can include:

  • Personal and vocational adjustment services,
  • Assistive technologies,
  • Rehabilitation technology,
  • Adaptive aids and devices and any associated training, and
  • Interpreter or reader services.
     
    For those individuals requiring more intensive disability and employment services, VR should be the primary point of contact and service delivery. Those individuals who are seeking employment services irrespective of their disability should be supported predominantly by the WorkOne or co-enrollment into multiple programs. By allowing VR employment services to focus on the intensive and specialize employment and disability services aligned to an individual’s needs, the WorkOne becomes more accessible for more Hoosiers. We are shifting the system to serve more individuals based on their needs and barriers, rather than a singular characteristic. This long-term systemic shift will allow us to stretch our dollars further and serve more Hoosiers. Focus on the intensity of the need and barriers will increase Hoosiers’ access to a wider array of employment services to attain career sustainability and longevity. To maximize these dollars, we need to integrate this program as one workforce system resource for our individuals with disabilities and not the only resource.
     
    As we move towards long-term integration and coordination of our workforce development programs, Indiana will examine ways to connect UI claims with VR for supports. For some Hoosiers, a recent disability, such as an on-the-job injury, may create a period of unemployment. Those who are unemployed due to a disability or injury can be connected to VR to receive modifications, rehabilitative technology, or other accommodations or assistance that may help them get back to work in a safe and healthy way – either in the same role with modifications or in a similar role. Through our UI system, we will develop the means to flag those who file unemployment due to either a recent or long-term disability and refer their information to VR. Local VR offices can provide follow-up resources and services for eligible individuals. Connecting UI claimants who may be unemployed due to their disability with VR earlier during their period of unemployment could expedite a person reentering the workforce.
     

State Earn and Learns (State Program): State Earn and Learns is a state-recognized apprenticeship program. This can be another option for work-based learning, where an Eligible Training Provider offers the educational components and an employer pays for the work-based learning portion (WIOA Adult could also subsidize this cost). Enrollment in this program would also be contingent upon an individual’s interests, since these are also focused in Indiana’s priority sectors. Because much of the instability for the subgroups on the Unemployed target population struggle with consistent income and opportunity, this is a state program that can address that. Similarly, pre-apprenticeships and registered apprenticeships could also provide that type of bridge between learning and earning.

Carl D. Perkins (Partner Program): SEALs or other options for work-based learning could complement the CTE Programs of Study offered at Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University. Through the Combined Plan, Indiana will merge the career pathways under WIOA and the programs of study under Perkins into one concept. These pathways will be coordinated, aligned, and structured pathways leading towards recognized postsecondary credentials. Additionally, career pathways and programs of study in the same employment sector could share employer partnerships and industry-recognized credentials identified as most relevant for their local economies. They would leverage each other’s industry connections and other strengths, reducing duplication, maximizing funding, and building wide-reaching partnerships. Through postsecondary Perkins funds, we can also expand our work-based learning activities for adult students to include career exploration and engagement experiences. Our Perkins funds could offer a variety of career exploration and awareness opportunities connected to postsecondary education and employment. Through talent tours, job shadowing, worksite tours, class audits, campus visits and tours, industry speakers, and informational interviews, Perkins can help make connections for adult students to postsecondary education and jobs as they transition to more challenging work.
 

ong-term unemployed (Subgroup): A person who has been unemployed for 27 or more consecutive weeks is identified as long-term unemployed.[2] Longer durations of unemployment are associated with lower rates of re-employment. The long-term unemployed face potentially being sidelined in the labor market. The longer an individual is unemployed, the less time s/he spends searching for a job, the fewer job applications s/he submit, and the less likely s/he is to be asked for an interview for any potential jobs. The majority of the long-term unemployed were previously employed in sales and service jobs (36%) and blue collar jobs (28%).[3] When long-term unemployed workers do return to work, they typically return to the jobs in the same industries and occupations from which the workers were originally displaced. Below is a graphic adapted from The Brookings Institution regarding the potential trajectories of long-term unemployed:

 

What happens to the long-term unemployed

[4]

Educational attainment is a critical factor in unemployment rates. Individuals with some kind of postsecondary credential or degree are more likely to be employed than those without. Long-term unemployment is highest for those with only a high school diploma.

 

Profiles of employed, short-term unemployed, and long-term unemployed by education, 2012

[5]

Hoosiers without college are more than twice as likely to file for unemployment, accounting for two-thirds of all unemployment claims in the past decade. As technologies change, and as increasing competition from online and global corporations put pressure on small, local businesses, those with the most skills or formal education are best positioned to do well financially.[6]

Economic conditions also impact conditions for long-term unemployment. In Indiana, many of our currently unemployed for more than 6 months are lower-skilled, have substandard work history, are illiterate, or have some other major barrier (e.g., a history of substance abuse, mental health issues, or a criminal history). These are often some of our hardest constituents to re-engage in the labor force, upskill, and find meaningful, sustainable jobs. When the next recession hits, however, this subgroup will look different. With the churn of the economy and rise of automation, there may be layoffs due to industry changes rather than individual circumstances. As discussed throughout the Combined Plan, Indiana’s strategy is to upskill and reskill Hoosiers now before those changes affect this state. Through proactive early interventions, we seek to prevent some Hoosiers from becoming unemployed for long stretches of time. Given the barriers currently unemployed and potentially unemployed Hoosiers face, we must develop our state and local staff to differentiate services and supports based on need and work history. As we scale the human-centered design thinking approach throughout state and local staff, this system will become more customizable and individualized towards the needs of Hoosiers. 

Long-term unemployed individuals are often qualified for similar jobs as those who were short-term unemployed. While some Hoosiers who have been unemployed for longer than 6 months may need to upskill or reskill in order to find quality employment, the issues facing our long-term unemployed may be intrinsic, such as motivation to find a job or eroded self-esteem during their long stretch of unemployment, in addition to potential skills erosion or lack of technical knowledge. Some employers may also be biased against individuals who have been long-term unemployed based on the expectation that there is a productivity- or skills-related reason that accounts for their unemployment. Some employers are less likely to call in workers for an interview if they have a period of joblessness on their resumes.[7]

Due to these factors, long-term unemployed Hoosiers need more extensive career counseling and navigation, in addition to the resources above. Career coaching (either funded through RESEA or Wagner-Peyser) can support these Hoosiers in making informed decisions about their career development and trajectory, as well as offer various tools that they can use to meet those goals. Career coaching can take a solutions-oriented approach, helping those who have been long-term unemployed develop concrete steps to achieving career objectives. More intensive career coaching would focus beyond a well-crafted resume or networking techniques to also include the person’s mindset and understanding about their career path and opportunities. Career coaches can also work with business service teams to help recalibrate employers’ mindsets about long-term unemployed Hoosiers. They can also promote use of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, through which they can qualify for a federal tax exemption for hiring someone who has been unemployed for more than 27 consecutive weeks. As employers look for talent to fill current and future job openings, career coaches and business service representatives can help foster this as a potential pipeline.

The long-term unemployed can have significantly different experiences than those who are temporarily unemployed. Often, self-blame will play a large factor into the psyche of these individuals. Self-blame can undermine effective job searching, networking, and interviewing. This can also increase physical and mental health risks for individuals. Individuals experiencing long-term unemployment may need more extensive career coaching potentially paired with mental health counseling. Ensuring the person is on the appropriate Medicaid Program(Federal Program) to receive healthcare benefits is a critical step to ensuring this individual’s physical and mental health needs are met. As we cross-train staff at all levels regarding various program opportunities, this information will trickle down to those Hoosiers that need it. As mentioned above regarding SNAP, co-location may also help increase the merging of our workforce and social systems.

Through the Skillful Governor’s Coaching Corps (State and Philanthropic Program) partnership between philanthropy and Indiana, Skillful is working with employers to have skills-based hiring practices and embed skills-based approaches in company programs. Skills-based hiring approaches will benefit both Indiana’s small-to-midsize businesses, as well as individuals who have had trouble finding employment. Skillful is currently working on customizing its Employer Toolkit for Indiana. Additionally, Skillful is advancing skills-based approaches for more effective coaching to its Coaching Corps members. If someone has been unemployed for more than 27 weeks, this person should be prioritized for inclusion with a Skillful-trained career coach to help determine potential skill strengths and gaps and connect that person to either a training program or job opening. 

A homeless individual lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.[8] Those who are homeless face a number of barriers, such as not having a mailing address, reliable phone, or consistent internet access, that exacerbate the difficulties of applying for assistance programs and renewing benefits. Therefore, homeless individuals may particularly benefit from policies and practices that simplify access to these benefit programs. Developing a common intake process could help increase this population’s access to both benefits and workforce programs, as it will reduce the paperwork burden as a perpetual barrier.

One of the most effective ways to support individuals as they move out of homelessness and into permanent housing is increasing access to meaningful and sustainable career training and employment pathways. Partner Programs, in addition to WIOA Core Programs, are critical to helping homeless individuals find permanent housing. Programs like SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, childcare vouchers, and other social services can fulfill basic needs of these individuals, allowing them opportunities to pursue education and training options. Local Workforce Development Boards can leverage community partners, in addition to government assistance, to provide these physiological and safety needs – the foundation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid.[9] Collaboration between the public workforce and homeless service systems is essential because success in employment and housing stability are closely linked, and neither system, working on its own, has the resources, capacity, or expertise to support individuals in achieving both of those outcomes. As a result, these systems must collaborate to help ensure that appropriate employment and housing services and supports exist at scale in communities and that the individuals served by these systems can access these resources.

As Indiana evaluates in which agencies its workforce development programs are housed, we seek to amend our Combined Plan to include related programs under the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (which will include the Community Development Block Grant program, Continuum of Care, Family Self-Sufficiency program, Jobs Plus program, and the Community Services Block Grant employment and training activities). The amendment will reflect effective combined planning processes between the public workforce system and homeless services system. Potential strategies will include:

  • Ensuring the identification, offering, and implementation of a robust menu of employment and support services for adult and youth homeless jobseekers;
  • Helping identify and implement effective referral processes between the workforce and homeless services systems and partners;
  • Coordinating the workforce programs and support service resources offered through IHCDA; and
  • Determining the unmet needs of participants served and how WIOA and IHCDA services and funds could be braided together.

As Indiana builds those workforce development programs administered by IHCDA into the overall talent development system, we intend on using our convening power through our various state agencies to develop and disseminate best practices on helping people with histories of homelessness and barriers to employment enter the workforce. As this will include strategies that take into consideration education, transportation, childcare, child support, domestic violence, criminal justice history, disabling conditions, limited work experience, and age appropriateness, we will work across agencies to identify those regions, organizations, or cities and towns with best practices. Agencies included will be the Department of Education, the Family and Social Services Agency, the Department of Child Services, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Workforce Development.

At the local level, Indiana will further the collaboration between and co-location of workforce, social services, and housing programs. Collaborative partnerships are currently occurring within some of our workforce regions. EmployIndy, for example, has recently joined the Indianapolis Housing Agency’s Family Self Sufficiency Program Coordinating Committee. Scaling these types of promising practices throughout the state can create grassroots initiatives that will float up to state-level activity. Co-locating workforce and homeless services and providers can create a deeper level of collaboration that requires sharing space and its associated resources at the local level. Allowing homeless staff to co-locate physically in the WorkOne or portably in high trafficked locations (e.g., schools, community centers, and libraries) could decrease travel time for those who are homeless and increase their access to a greater amount of opportunities. In Indiana communities with limited public transportation options, co-locating services at a one-stop will help alleviate a primary barrier for this target population. Co-location also facilitates real-time information sharing among staff, allowing staff to better align the activities of their respective systems, leverage existing resources, and increase opportunities for collective innovation that may lead to better service delivery approaches. To help increase the co-location and integration of housing and workforce services at the local level, our local Workforce Development Boards may include those entities representing or serving jobseekers facing housing instability into their leadership bodies, or vice versa through participation in local housing committees and agencies.

Trauma also plays a role in the employability of populations experiencing homelessness or housing instability. For some individuals, traumatic experiences can lead to an episode of homelessness; others experience trauma during their homelessness. Overcoming employment barriers requires collaborations between employers, providers, and individuals experiencing homelessness to ensure that the needs of all parties are being met. To help individuals overcome their traumatic experiences and succeed in the workplace, providers should follow a trauma-informed approach. Both IHDCA and WIOA programs serving homeless individuals need to be trauma-informed because trauma impacts how people access and respond to services. This may also include substance abuse or mental health issues that may be a cause or an effect of housing instability. As we potentially co-enroll homeless Hoosiers into UI and WIOA programs, we must also increase the co-enrollment of these individuals into Medicaid to address their physical and mental health barriers to housing and employment stability.

DWD, along with its state and local partners, developed a plan to provide comprehensive services to people impacted by the opioid crisis to assist them to return to work or embark on a path to a new career in the process. The Opioid Response Dislocated Worker Grant aims to help communities recover from the crisis and assist employers in finding the skilled workers they need. This grant funded a pilot program aimed at helping Hoosiers with substance abuse issues return to work through three local Workforce Development Boards. The Boards coordinated with state agencies, including the Governor’s Office Executive Director of Drug Treatment Prevention and Enforcement, the Division of Rehabilitation Services, and the Department of Mental Health-Adult Drug Addiction to provide treatment, prevention and referral activities. They also conducted outreach to local agencies providing addiction treatment services to coordinate cross referrals for treatment and to WorkOnes for employment and training activities, as well as provide supportive services, such as housing, treatment, and transportation. The Boards conduct specific outreach to organizations providing services to Veterans and marketing to area employers to identify job opportunities for eligible participants. Through this pilot, DWD and other state agencies can learn effective processes for co-enrollment and referrals between the mental health and workforce systems to assist Hoosiers suffering from substance abuse to access employment opportunities and supportive services. With those practices established, we can scale similar efforts throughout the state to combat the prevalence and destruction of opioids.

Many homeless and/or unemployed Hoosiers may currently or previous suffer from a substance abuse issue. Because stable employment may assist those suffering from addiction problems, we will encourage employers to implement non-traditional hiring practices that tap into these often overlooked talent pools. To help counteract any type of encumbrance those with extenuating circumstances and social needs may pose to businesses, we intend for more employers to use the WorkINdiana (State Program) program to provide wraparound supports. This state-funded program has an appropriation of $1 million to incentivize employers to hire Hoosiers who may need additional supports to be successful in the workplace. Governor Holcomb is working with the Indiana General Assembly to potentially redefine this funding to assist employers with providing wraparound supports to entry-level employees as a means to address barriers to upskilling and career advancement. Wraparound supports could include career counseling and coaching, and mentoring. Similar to the program Cook Medical has implemented that includes wraparound supports for their employees earning a high school equivalency, WorkINdiana can help provide those extra expenses that will help someone overcome their current circumstances of homelessness, substance abuse, or similar situations, to become a productive, effective employee.

For those employees who may be on SNAP, the business may also utilize the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, as well as receive a federal match of funding through reverse referrals for SNAP 50/50 since these are state appropriated dollars going to this program. These federal funds could augment the wraparound supports provided through WorkINdiana to include other direct expenses, as well as benefit the employer’s financial interests. Through this blend of state and federal funds, Indiana can engage employers in developing innovative and sustainable ways to developing talent and providing the social services needed to attain upward economic mobility.

Migrant/Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFWs) may share similar attributes of the two subgroups above – they may experience housing instability, language barriers, and long periods of unemployment due to the nature of their work. Additionally, this subgroup may intersect with other target populations while they have consistent, seasonal employment. This section specifically discusses barriers and strategies during their off-season when they do not work and may experience periods of unemployment. Like the other Unemployed subgroups, MSFWs need assistance with transitioning to stable employment opportunities that pay a sustainable wage, in either agricultural or non-agricultural occupations, based on the individual’s career interests. Not all MSFWs, though, deal with bouts of long-term unemployment between seasonal work; some find temporary jobs in between seasons. Immigrants and refugees primarily comprise this subgroup. Providing supports unique to those experiences are addressed in the Adults without a High School Diploma section.

Leveraging local plans of the Workforce Development Boards, regions’ direct outreach to the agriculture industry can expand and continue assessing workforce needs. At the state-level, we have several Departments connected with the MSFW Coalition. For those regions who see an influx of MSFWs, finding ways to participate and engage with this Council may be beneficial. As our local boards are comprised of various stakeholders, they can convene community organizations, employers, and state agency partners to facilitate workforce development services for this target population. Increasing local awareness of the unique needs of this population and collaboration for services could include providing more relevant and digestible labor market information, facilitating direct referrals to support organizations, and providing targeted workforce training programs.

Indiana has two types of MSFWs:

  1. Migrant farmworkers are seasonal farmworkers who travels to the job site and the farmworker is not reasonably able to return to his/her permanent residence within the same day.
  2. Seasonal farmworkers are individuals who are employed, or was employed in the past 12 months, in farm work of a seasonal or other temporary nature and is not required to be absent overnight from their permanent place of residence. 

Funded through Wagner-Peyser, local and state workforce development staff often have to physically go to the farms and sites where MSFWs work, as they have may not have the time, language skills, or knowledge to seek out these resources. Recruitment and outreach are the two most important aspects of working with this subgroup. Indiana engages in outreach to the MSFW’s at their locations, in order to provide information regarding farmworker rights, awareness of the complaint system, and WorkOne access for MSFWs. Because access to healthcare and education are critical components for the well-being and professional development for MSFWs, Indiana is pioneering mobile services that encompass all three aspects – health, education, and workforce development – to serve this population in a more targeted way. To scale these resources throughout the regions with heavy MSFW representation, as well as in the multiple locales these individuals work, we need to increase our outreach capacity. DWD is exploring contracting with AmeriCorps volunteers to help expand outreach efforts and to increase the multilingualism within the outreach. Additionally, DWD is examining ways to create DOL-recognized areas of significance that can have embedded outreach staff for MSFWs.

Migrant and seasonal farmwork is often generational work. Whole families may work in this sector together, as well as a history of employment in this field. Without diminishing the agriculture work these individuals contribute, our outreach staff will work to let MSFWs know that if they want to stay in Indiana permanently, we can assist them. Indiana has training and education options, if that individual wants to move to a different field or potentially advance in his/her seasonal farm work. We can help connect MSFWs to the resources they need to be successful in their current or future endeavors.

One key part of our outreach is to have receptive growers as partners in this work. The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) has fostered strong partnership with employers and associations. We will use this state agency to promote awareness of workforce, health, and education options for their workers. ISDA can help facilitate trainings and opportunities for employers to learn more about ways to upskill workers in agbioscience and other useful skills. Using ISDA as a conduit to employers and agriculture associations, we can also promote agricultural-based recruitment and promotion events. Allowing our employers to see the state’s outreach and services as complimentary to their industry needs will facilitate DWD’s work in recruiting more MSFWs to partake in the resources it and other agencies offer.

WIOA Adult, Dislocated Worker, or Wagner-Peyser(Core Programs) funds can directly fund services that will benefit MSFWs, specifically the services identified above. Additional supports through WIOA Title I could include assistance with transportation, childcare and dependent care, housing, educational testing, uniforms or other appropriate work attire and work-related tools, books, fees, and school supplies, and payments and fees for employment and training-related applications, tests, and certifications. If there is a language barrier a MSFW is facing, s/he can co-enroll in WIOA Title II for literacy and English language acquisition help.

Similar to our Partner Programs, Indiana must examine how to integrate the full spectrum of MSFW service providers into the WorkOne system, as well as develop linkages and collaborative efforts with other non-traditional service providers. While our regions could assist with executing this strategy through expanding co-location opportunities, state agencies could examine current use or potentially pursue additional federal funding from programs through the Office of English Learning and Migrant Education(State Program) at the Indiana Department of Education and Adult Education and the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) (Federal Program). Currently, the US Department of Labor directs Indiana’s NFJP funds to a third-party vendor that assists those who have done seasonal and migrant farm work within the last 2 years. This provider offers similar services as our WorkOnes but only for MSFWs. Through NFJP, MSFWs can receive financial assistance for tuition, books, tools, and a weekly stipend for time spent in the classroom upskilling. Individuals who have done seasonal and migrant farm work in the last 2 years and those planning on obtaining a two-year degree or certification are eligible to receive these funds. State agencies may consider if having that funding come straight to the executive branch and then disseminated formulaically to our regions may have a long-term efficacy of this program for MSFWs. Additionally, we may find areas of overlapping services between this program and our WIOA Core Programs at our WorkOnes. Indiana will examine if there are ways to braid this funding with our other WIOA programs to stretch the effectiveness of our funding for this target population.

Title I, Part C: Education of Migratory Children of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), includes funding that oversees six Migrant Regional Centers (MRCs) that operate local and regional migrant education programs. Migrant children ages 0-21 receive supplementary educational, supportive, and referral services through the Indiana Migrant Education Program (IMEP), which receives these federal funds. The IMEP helps ensure that migratory children overcome educational disruption and other barriers they may face due to the migratory lifestyle. In FY 2020, Indiana will receive approximately $2.4 million in funding through this Title.[10] The priority focus for this funding is on identification and recruitment of students, as the IMEP aims to identify and serve 100% of Indiana’s migrant students each year. MRCs employ full-time, year-round recruiters throughout Indiana to strive to meet this. MRCs can also use a similar process to recruit, identify, and support the parents of migrant students, which are adult MSFWs. Local Boards can detail how they may consult with their regional MRCs to provide resources – such as Adult Education or employment services – to adult MSFWs, as well as receive active referrals of migrant students who graduate in Indiana. The Department of Education has a Memorandum of Understanding with Indiana’s NFJP provider, Proteus, to give it data on migrant families identified through ESEA Title I, Part C to help recruit parents.

The IMEP participates in the Interstate Migrant Education Council (IMEC) quarterly meetings, the National Association of State Directors of Migrant Education (NASDME), the annual ESCORT Identification and Recruitment (ID&R) Forum, Pre-K Consortium Incentive Grant, and participates in the Office of Migrant Education annual director's meeting in Washington, D.C. Each of these opportunities allows IMEP staff to collaborate and network with fellow state migrant staff while coordinating efforts to best serve the needs of migrant students and their parents shared between our states. In addition, the IMEP collaborates with the Texas Migrant Interstate Program (TMIP,) as Texas is the sending state for the majority of our M/SFWs. MRCs and recruiters frequently work in collaboration with bordering states to ensure that students who may move between Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, Illinois, and Ohio do not experience an interruption due to a move. Workforce Development Boards that serve Indiana counties bordering other states can leverage these interstate MRC partnerships to support M/SFWs that travel across state lines. The regional model of the IMEP allows for a high level of intrastate collaboration with community partners in Indiana and local workforce Boards. We intend for our Boards take advantage of the Combined Plan to further their partnerships with local school districts and MRCs, in addition to the Migrant/Seasonal Farm Worker Coalition, MSFW Head Starts (serve preschool migratory children, as well as offer parents temporary work), Proteus, Inc. (the NFJP contractor), institutions of higher education, and various local and regional community organizations.[11]

Two higher education programs that are MSFW specific are the High School Equivalency Program (HEP) and the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), authorized under the Higher Education Act. HEP helps students who have dropped out of high school get their High School Equivalency Credential; CAMP assists students in their first year of college with academic, personal, and financial support. Both are federal grants that can advance the educational attainment of MSFWs. For those regions with heavy MSFW populations, we encourage them to reach out the Indiana Department of Education to determine if these programs may be beneficial to expand in their areas. Receiving these federal grants may help increase the resources specific to MSFWs.

One additional barrier MSFWs may face is access to consistent broadband. This issue is discussed at length in the Rural target population section, but it may be an overlapping barrier for this group, as well. Through Next Level Connections(State Program), Governor Holcomb has created a broadband initiative. Indiana has appropriated $100 million to bring affordable, high-speed fiber optic broadband access to unserved and underserved areas of the state. The state will offer grants for providers to bring broadband services with a minimum of 100/10 Mbps to areas of the state lacking service. As the state works with providers, communities, and other groups to design the final grant program and determine how to best optimize the investment, our state agencies leading this charge can consider the needs and challenges of this particular target population.

[1] US Department of Labor, 2018. Research Synthesis: What do we know about the effectiveness of reemployment initiatives?

[2] Some programs, such as Jobs for Vets State Grant, may not require consecutive weeks of unemployment, but rather the aggregate time spent unemployed.

[3] Krueger et al., 2014. Are the Long-Term Unemployed on the Margins of the Labor Market?

[4] Brookings Institution, 2014. Who Are the Long-Term Unemployed and What Happens to Them?

[5] Ibid.

[6] Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 2018. College Return on Investment Report 2018.

[7] Ibid.

[8] WIOA, Sec. 3(24)(G)).

[9] McLeod, 2018. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

[10] US Department of Education. Funds for State Formula-Allocated and Selected Student Aid Programs: Indiana.

[11] Indiana Department of Education, 2019. Amendment to Indiana’s Consolidated State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

 

As many of the current jobs in Indiana’s economy are more task-oriented, we anticipate feeling the effects of increasing automation and artificial intelligence throughout our key sectors.[1] To prevent increasing reliance on government benefits, like SNAP and TANF, we need to focus on upskilling and reskilling our current workers to help make them ‘future-proof,’ including a greater focus on digital literacy. Upskilling is defined as ‘the process of learning new skills or of teaching workers new skills;’ reskilling is ‘the process of learning new skills so you can do a different job, or of training people to do a different job.’[2] Both upskilling and reskilling will help address the growing ‘skills gap’ – the gulf between the skills job seekers currently have and the skills employers need to fill their open positions – and help Hoosiers future-proof their skills as our economy changes.

Because low-skill jobs will feel the effects of automation and artificial intelligence first and potentially the greatest, Indiana knows that upskilling and reskilling those in these jobs is of utmost importance. Upskilling and reskilling individuals before they rely on government benefits is one of our primary prevention strategies. Based upon the demographics of Indiana’s workforce, most of our target populations may need to be upskilled and reskilled generally. This target population is more focused on specific groups that may not be captured in our other target populations: underemployed individuals, seniors, single parents, dislocated workers, and displaced homemakers. If an individual is neither low-income nor unemployed, but rather needs to be upskilled or reskilled, we intend on using specific funding streams to help get that person the skills training necessary for new and/or continued employment in our changing economy.

This target population should potentially be co-enrolled into the programs listed below, though our subgroups may qualify for or require more specialized focus and prioritization from certain other programs. This initial list is a general approach to how our programs could serve this target population, with more specific strategies geared towards each subgroup explained further in this section.

Co-Enrolled Programs: Hoosiers needing to be either upskilled or reskilled will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities for those adults.

Title III – Wagner-Peyser (Core Program): For this target population, we can prioritize our Wagner-Peyser funds to increasing transparency about what qualifications and skills employees need to advance into middle-skill jobs. Identifying what specific programs, skills, or credentials are aligned with employer needs can be difficult for the average employee. Through our business services, we can work with our employers to understand the specific skillset, knowledge, and/or credential they are looking for, rather than a job title or description. These funds can be used to provide Hoosiers with information about what credentials and skills each position in a company requires and where those credentials can be obtained, greatly increasing their chances of upskilling.

Credential Engine (State and Philanthropic Program): Credential Engine’s Credential Registry is a database that captures, connects, and makes searchable critical information about all kinds of credentials: from degrees to certificates, badges to micromasters, apprenticeships to employer training programs, and certifications to licenses. The organization obtains this information under agreements with colleges, certification bodies, industry associations, and other credentialing and quality assurance organizations. The Credential Finder is a search app that accompanies the Registry. It enables employers, students, career counselors and others to find credentials of interest and compare them along many dimensions. When considering the hundreds of thousands of credentialing options facing an individual, having a constituent or case manager use this tool will help individuals determine valuable options. Currently, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD) career exploration toolset is linked to the Registry. This allows anybody in Indiana to see what credentials are aligned to the job market. As this tool is rolled out statewide, we will need to prioritize having our Wagner-Peyser staff trained on its use. Through either WIOA Adult or Wagner-Peyser funds, WorkOnes can steer individuals towards this tool to better understand their options.

Postsecondary Education Financial Aid (Federal and State Programs): Through greater coordiantion between our WorkOnes and higher education financial aid offices, we can provide additional access to credit-bearing postsecondary education opportunities to those seeking to be upskilled or reskilled. Greater integration of the state and federal financial aid systems into our workforce development system will give options to those who are ineligible for Core or Partner programs, remove some of the funding burdens from WIOA Core programs, and promote various forms of postsecondary attainment that lead to higher wages. Because community colleges and vocational schools account for a substantial group of WIOA training providers, improving communication and cross-agency coordination between financial aid officers at colleges and our WorkOnes is one of the biggest opportunities to get more job seekers trained and back to work. To better integrate postsecondary financial aid with WIOA training dollars, our WorkOnes can encourage those interested in a postsecondary program to file the FAFSA. The FAFSA is required to access the following: Pell Grants and federal loans (income-based Federal Programs), Frank O’Bannon Grant (need-based State Program), and Next Level Jobs:Workforce Ready Grants (non-income-based State Program).

Potential Eligibility: Additional programs and services a Hoosier may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities,Activities outside the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor adults in this target population.

Title I – Adult (Core Program): For these eligible individuals, our WorkOne caseworkers should prioritize training services from the start if it is clear participants need more than core services (such as guidance or coaching). One primary training option for this target population is work-based learning. Work-based learning opportunities are critical to the advancement of each our target populations. Because life expenses can outweigh education and training opportunities for an individual, work-based learning options addresses the competition between income and education through a hybrid approach. One difference in work-based learning for this target population is that they often will be incumbent workers or may have foundational skills that can be easily augmented. Rather than only focusing on traditional work-based learning experiences, the opportunities for this target population can be more flexible. In addition to on-the-job training, internships, and the more conventional approaches, employers can also offer the following:

  • Mentoring and shadowing: Experts within a company can formally or informally help new hires or incumbent workers master important skills.
  • Virtual or online learning: These learning opportunities allow employees to train from home, rather than forcing everyone to gather on-site for training sessions.
  • Microlearning and microinternships: This form of learning involves boosting employees’ understanding of a particular program or topic through modules or compact experiences.
  • Lunch-and-learn sessions: During these sessions, you can provide lunch for your employees and invite an expert from outside the company to share expertise on a particular subject.

There should be as few barriers as possible for employees looking to upskill. WIOA caseworkers can advocate for the following strategies to help incumbent workers upskill or reskill:

  • Providing flexible shifts to ensure that employees can balance their job with their upskilling efforts. Employers and case managers must work with employees to help them balance their time, ensuring that they can complete their upskilling while fulfilling their job obligations. Managers should be made aware when their employees are pursuing additional education or training while working and should empower these employees by providing flexible shifts to ensure that they complete their upskilling.
  • Developing incentives for employees to gain new skills while working. Offering monetary or promotion incentives for employees who learn new skills while working can both motivate employees and teach the value of continued self-improvement.
  • Partnering with Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) providers to deliver specialized and flexible learning content online. MOOCs are usually free and are not tied to credit. Most are self-paced and can theoretically serve any number of people at a time. For businesses, MOOCs represent a way to develop and distribute accessible and convenient online courses that teach business-specific skills to both job seekers and current employees. These programs can be made available to both current and future employees to simultaneously attract and train new employees and upskill current ones.

: WIOA regulations defines underemployed as “an individual who is working part-time but desires full-time employment, or who is working in employment not commensurate with the individual's demonstrated level of educational and/or skill achievement.”[3] Some of the Hoosiers in this category may also fall into the low-income target population or overlap with others (e.g., underemployed veterans or individuals with disabilities). Overlapping individuals are eligible for the available programs and can and will be co-enrolled, as needed. For this section, we are focusing primarily on the ‘underemployed’ descriptor of an individual, rather than on their other potential eligibility. The following programs can provide foundational services to those Hoosiers who may be underemployed in Indiana.

The distinguishing factor of underemployment versus other target populations is the nature of the work most people within this subgroup find themselves doing. This work is low-skill, low-wage jobs that are part-time or seasonal. Wages, however, are not the only measure of job quality; access to employment benefits, employer-provided health insurance, and employer-sponsored retirement plans, are also important, though often lacking in the jobs underemployed Hoosiers fill.[4] These jobs also do not necessarily allow for career advancement or development. They may have a high turnover rate, creating instability for both the individual and the employer. This job instability and the accompanying low wages precludes pockets of our state from attaining self-sufficiency. Because of erratic shifts, underemployed Hoosiers’ schedules may not be conducive to upskilling/reskilling opportunities. These jobs also have a higher likelihood of feeling the effects of automation and artificial intelligence most significantly. If we do not allow for these Hoosiers to access upskilling/reskilling options, there is a high probability that they will backslide into lower income levels and onto government benefits. Focusing on this particular subgroup helps prevent Hoosiers from potentially needing SNAP and TANF in the future.

Both Wagner-Peyser funds (Core Program) and the Credential Engine (State and Private Program) tool can be very useful to providing employment services to underemployed Hoosiers. If an underemployed Hoosier (without any other eligibility) seeks out services from a WorkOne, employment service staff funded through Wagner-Peyser can play an important role in guiding this target population toward educational opportunities around career pathways through a range of one-on-one assistance and group services. Counseling and career planning, job search assistance, labor market information dissemination, training provider information, and recruitment, job matching, and placement are all activities WorkOnes can offer underemployed Hoosiers through this Core Program. For those Hoosiers who may have some postsecondary attainment but are struggling finding work that is on par with their education level, Credential Engine can help that individual see to which opportunities their degree or credential align.

Indiana’s Commission for Higher Education releases several annual reports and analyses to facilitate the state’s policies and goals by providing actionable and meaningful statistics on postsecondary education outcomes. Among these reports include analysis on topics such as college readiness and completion, equity in higher education, and financial aid and budget information. One of CHE’s reports that may be useful for both career counselors and individuals seeking to upskill/reskill is the Return on Investment reports. These reports provide a clearer picture of the returns postsecondary education yields after graduation, emphasizing that higher education offers benefits that extend far beyond a financial paycheck. These dividends include greater job satisfaction and security, enhanced social mobility, increased civic involvement, improved health and wellness, and higher quality of life. Additionally, the College Value Index brings these quantitative and qualitative data, such as college completion rates, labor market returns, and alumni satisfaction, together to help Hoosiers answer some of the most fundamental questions in higher education today.

For Hoosiers to access middle-skill jobs with higher wages, which can lead to upward economic mobility, education and training beyond high school is a necessity.[5] Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce has found that since the Great Recession, almost all middle- and high-skill jobs have gone to college graduates. For those with a high school diploma or less, low-wage jobs (those making less than $32,000) are typically the only jobs available.[6] These workers continually lose access to jobs in high- and middle-skill occupations. Indiana’s economy, like the rest of the country, is shifting towards needing a more-educated workforce. A high school diploma is no longer the finish line in one’s educational path; some type of higher education is becoming increasingly necessary to ensure economic mobility.

As Indiana works to expand its definition of postsecondary attainment to include all forms of higher education (including quality, stackable credentials and certifications), we aim for more Hoosiers will understand the variety of postsecondary opportunities our state hosts. Those with advanced degrees will often have a high likelihood of amassing wealth throughout their lives than those with lesser educational attainment.[7] Even after accounting for increases in costs, most credentials pay for themselves within only a few years. College graduates tend to earn a substantial wage premium in the labor market, especially when compared to those with only a high school diploma. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimates that the average college graduate with just a bachelor’s degree earned about $78,000, compared to $45,000 for the average worker with only a high school diploma. This means a typical college graduate earns a premium of well over $30,000 (nearly 75%). While the labor market has boosted the wages of those with a high school diploma in recent years, the wages of college graduates have gone up by as much or more, keeping the college wage premium near an all-time high. As well, the economic benefits of a college degree last over an entire career.

College wage premium remains substantial

[8]

Hoosiers’ with bachelor’s degrees lifetime earnings often outweigh those with only a high school diploma by $1 million or more. Compared to those Hoosiers with a high school diploma, those with an associate’s degree will earn at least $400,000 more over the course of their lives, and those with some college will earn at least $150,000 more.[9] The traditional four-year pathway to this level of education may not be the best fit for each individual. Some Hoosiers may choose non-traditional routes to higher education opportunities, such as shorter term credentials that can stack into longer term degrees. Regardless of how someone pursues higher education, we need more Hoosiers to recognize that good jobs with middle-wages and employment benefits require some form of postsecondary education; educational attainment must be a core value for all Hoosiers.[10]

Upskilling Indiana’s underemployed through postsecondary education will require the state to communicate two key concepts:

  1. Postsecondary education is necessary for career advancement, and
  2. Postsecondary education can take many forms (e.g., registered apprenticeships, SEALs, licenses, certifications, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees).

Indiana intends to implement a communications strategy with the goal of becoming a people and state that value education as essential to a prosperous and stable quality of life and to Indiana’s economic growth. This strategy will involve private and public sector partners, including the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, and the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet Staff. This will offer Indiana the opportunity to coordinate a unified direct outreach effort across agencies. Hoosiers will receive one message that supports the Vision and Goals set forth in this Plan. This aligned direct outreach can include endorsed marketing efforts cross-agency so Hoosiers already receiving government benefits also receive information how to upskill/reskill. This strategy aims at building an awareness and behavior change campaign that makes more Hoosiers aware of their educational options and convinces them to take advantage of those resources.

The goal of this communications strategy is to meet every Hoosier where they are with the education and training they need to secure a high-demand job and improve their lives. Within our underemployed subgroup, we seek to target this message to recent high school graduates that are aimless post-graduation and Hoosiers with some college but no degree. Each year, Indiana has roughly 25,000 high school graduates whohave no plan beyond graduation other than to “get a job.” These young adults often end up filling low-wage, low-skill jobs. If they do not pursue postsecondary education in some form in their futures, they may not advance beyond this type of work and may one day need government assistance when they have family members. Career counseling, awareness, and navigation throughout the K-12 system is essential to prevent this trend from continuing and to better prepare Indiana’s students for all types of postsecondary opportunities.

Through Indiana’s new graduation requirements, termed Graduation Pathways (State Program), every Hoosier student will receive the guidance and instruction needed to succeed in any form of quality postsecondary education and training. To accomplish this objective for all of our students, these new graduation requirements endeavor to give each student a broad awareness of and engagement with individual career interests and associated career options, a strong foundation of academic and technical skills, and demonstrable employability skills that lead directly to meaningful opportunities for postsecondary education, training, and gainful employment. Graduation Pathways allows every student to choose from multiple routes to graduation that align to their strengths and interests. A key component of Graduation Pathways will occur in grades K-8 – students will need more activities to explore, engage, and experience a variety of careers to understand their postsecondary options. Because students select the option that best aligns with their postsecondary goals, their high school experience will be more relevant to them personally. For those students who may want a short-term degree immediately after high school, the Workforce Ready Grants (State Program) present Hoosier students with the opportunity to upskill by earning tuition-free certificates in high demand sectors.

Our adults with some college but no degree face a similar career limbo as those high school graduates described above. Indiana has about 700,000 Hoosiers that have some college credits but lack a degree. While some of these adults may have been able to find middle-wage jobs, they may also face a skill gap or qualification barrier to advancing their career. Additionally, these individuals may have incurred debt without any product from it. Indiana has two programs we intend to leverage to help upskill this particular subset of our target population. The Adult Student Grant(State Program) programs are specifically designed for working adults. Indiana recognizes that adult learners have different needs and usually are already working, so we offer financial resources to make sure they can succeed. Part of the Adult Student Grant program is reaching out to Hoosiers directly and connecting them with Indiana colleges that are committed to eliminating barriers for returning adults. Many colleges are offering special programs and incentives—including flexible class schedules and online courses, college credit for work and military experience, grade- and debt-forgiveness programs— as well as scholarships, and tuition discounts for qualifying students. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education offers the Adult Student Grant to assist starting or completing an associate's degree, bachelor's degree, or certificates by providing a $2,000 grant every year ($1,000 per semester). It is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of working adults.

Another option to upskill current entry-level employees includes employer or sector partnerships with community colleges, developing an internal talent pipeline to combat skills gaps. While many Hoosier employers offer tuition reimbursement for their employees, the reimbursement model often places a burden on the individual to front payment that s/he may not have. The Community Health Network(Employer Program) flipped the tuition reimbursement structure to provide their employees with tuition support at enrollment, which removed this barrier from their low-skill workers.

A similar program Ivy Tech Community College has instituted is Achieve Your Degree(Institution of Higher Education Program). Through partnerships with local employers, this program works with companies that have tuition reimbursement benefits to assist students with the college and financial aid application process. Ivy Tech defers billing until the end of the semester, allowing some financial breathing room for students. Company tuition plans then cover the balance per company policy. This program helps address financial barriers for students wishing to further their education through the tuition deferral and financial aid process. It is comprised of uniquely designed Career Certificates, which are embedded within Technical Certificates and associate’s degrees, as well as our Transfer as a Junior programs (officially known as Transfer Single Articulation Pathway (TSAP) degrees), to provide professional and career pathways within companies at a reduced cost to the employer. Opportunities for students to transfer to four-year institutions via Transfer as a Junior programs can also be a more cost effective use of limited company tuition benefit dollars and can replace internal professional development training.

Cook Medical (Employer Program) allows its employees to earn a certificate in seven programs, including biotechnology, business administration, hospitality, and various computing and informatics tracks through the Achieve Your Degree program with Ivy Tech Bloomington. Employees can also continue their education by earning an Associate degree in these curricula developed for Cook. Cook has redesigned these educational opportunities for their employees into talent development strategies, rather than a corporate social good. Helping their current or future employees’ access education and training programs can exponentially grow their talent for both middle-skills and advanced positions, easing talent attraction and retention tension. Through local plans, we aim for more businesses to take advantage of this opportunity to upskill their employees as a way to increase their talent attraction, retention, and development practices and culture. Our local business service representatives can develop their awareness of these types of employer programs into which they can enroll Hoosiers seeking to upskill/reskill. They can engage with employers to create similar programs in-house and to create customized talent pipelines.

Indiana employers can also use the Employer Training Grant program through Next Level Jobs (State Program) for incumbent workers, in particular providing training and education for underemployed workers. Employers may qualify for reimbursement of up to $5,000 per employee trained and retained for six months up to $50,000 per employer. As discussed in the Low-Income Adults section, Employer Training Grants receive $20 million in funding through the state’s budget. While this Grant has been useful in advancing those in middle-skill jobs to more advanced positions, we would like to see similar traction for those in low-skill jobs into middle-skill. Through coordinated communications via our local businesses services teams, as well as sector partners (such as the state and local Chambers of Commerce, trade organizations, and unions), we will advance the use of this Grant towards those needing to be either upskilled or reskilled.

For underemployed adults requiring new or additional degrees, certifications, or credentials, exam costs can be prohibitive. To help offset the strain of assessment costs, Indiana is going to examine how to use our TANF (Partner Program) block grant to help cover costs of any certification, credentialing, or examination costs.[11]

For some Hoosiers, underemployment may be a product of lacking appropriate accommodations or services to assist with a disability. For those who may qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation(Core Program) services, this program can assist with providing any assistive technologies, accommodations, or auxiliary supports the individual may need for job placement or advancement. Determining the main barrier the individual faces to accessing more advanced careers – whether it is a skill or educational gap, missing accommodation, gaining more experience in a sector, or perhaps another supportive service – is a critical first step in getting that Hoosier the assistance necessary. Because of the range of barriers any one individual may have when they enter a WorkOne, co-location and cross-training play significant roles in helping our Hoosiers. Co-locating our various programs through physical space, increasing staff mobility to various community hubs and program offices, or through virtual warm handoffs will help ensure that the range of services are provided to a Hoosier through a truly convenient one-stop approach. Currently, our VR offices and WorkOnes have co-location embedded throughout many offices throughout Indiana, but we need to expand this approach to include social services, as well. Similarly, cross-training our staff at all managerial levels – from frontline staffers to senior staff in agencies – and members of local Workforce Development Boards in what different programs offer can ensure that Hoosiers receive the services they need.

: The US workforce is aging, and it will continue to age. Many low-income, older workers face unique barriers to employment and require specialized services to prepare them for entry or reentry into the labor market. These barriers include age discrimination by employers, difficulties with hearing or vision, outdated skills and knowledge, and age-related physical limitations. Although some barriers to employment are not age-specific (e.g., difficulty with transportation), the challenges facing low-income, older workers and their related solutions may be unique. These individuals often require more personalized assistance than their younger counterparts. As some older workers do not see workforce development programs as intended for them, we need to continue increasing awareness of and accessibility to these programs for this target population.

Older workers can also have more difficulty finding new jobs when they become unemployed than younger workers. Even if older individuals are willing and able to work, obtaining and retaining a job depends on employers’ willingness to give them a job. Older workers also face stereotypes, such as they are less efficient, resist change, learn more slowly, or are less able to learn than younger workers, which can create additional barriers to employment. There is little support, however, for the claim that job performance declines with age.[12] Because older workers are remaining in the workforce – either by choice or need, we will need to find ways to further engage this subgroup in our talent development system. We look forward to our local workforce boards incorporating regional strategies to recruit and develop this particular population. 

Demand for workforce programs serving older workers is increasing, thus demand for the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) (Partner Program) is increasing. To qualify for SCSEP, an individual must be 55 or older and have a family income of no more than 125% of the federal poverty level. Often those eligible for SCSEP are also unemployed or have low employment prospects. These participants may be unable to find employment through the WOIA Core Programs. They might be homeless or at risk of homelessness, veterans and qualified spouses, have Limited English proficiency or low literacy skills, or have a disability.

SCSEP serves these older workers when other programs do not, and it can help supplement other training programs to better serve older workers. Indiana must coordinate SCSEP with the talent development system at-large to maximize resources, prevent duplication of services, and increase access for older Hoosiers. This program must be fully integrated into WorkOne offices through physical, virtual, or mobile co-location. Local regions can also explore embedding or using itinerant staffing models. Embedded staff travel between different offices rather than being on-site full-time at any one location, regularly working in different places and with different program staff. Itinerant staff members who come to the WorkOne (or another office) when called or requested and do not have a set schedule. These staffing models can bring services to where people are rather than concentrating programs and services in any particular center. Co-location will help increase communication and referrals between the WorkOnes and this program. Additionally, the common Performance Goals for all programs included in the Combined Plan will synchronize the different needs and aims of WorkOne staff, SCSEP staff, and SCSEP participants. The ‘Immediate Outcomes’ can help shift our sole focus on finding full-time employment opportunities to finding the opportunity that works best for the individual, which may be part-time employment for older workers.

SCSEP funds can be spent on providing participants with:

  • Wages and benefits (must account for at least 75% of funds),
  • Training,
  • Job placement assistance, including job development and job search assistance,
  • Supportive services (e.g., health and medical costs, transportation, work-related equipment, childcare, etc.), and
  • Outreach, recruitment and selection, intake, orientation, and assessments.

Through braided funding, our SCSEP staff can work with Wagner-Peyser staff or funds to connect a senior’s employment history, personal background, and non-work activities and skills (e.g., hobbies, household activities, faith-related activities, etc.) with the current labor market needs to expedite the training and placement process for the participant. Wagner-Peyser could also help fund business outreach, recruitment, and selection and job search and placement for the SCSEP participant. Additionally, if a senior qualifies for another WIOA Core Program, those funds could help provide training and assessments. SCSCEP funds should prioritizes wages and benefits and supportive services, such as transportation or medical costs, when possible.

Indiana’s SCSEP subgrantee, National Able, and other SCSEP partners will develop training that emphasizes digital literacy and computer skills training, life coaching, and financial management skills for its participants. This will require finding innovative curricula and preparation activities that ensure the optimal learning environment and reinforce workplace “realities” regarding the work-a-day schedule, dress, and turnaround on assignments. Our SCSEP training and services must also be tailored to assist individual circumstances, such as older women entering the labor force for the first time, reentry after retirement, the loss of a spouse, or a lack of basic computer and internet skills. For those seniors who qualify, WIOA Adult can help fill any funding gaps or provide training opportunities, specifically in financial and digital literacy.

SCSEP participants are often placed in community service assignments to gather on-the-job training and to help prepare them to transition to unsubsidized employment. These jobs are usually part-time (an average of 20 hours a week), temporary, paid positions that permit someone to obtain work experience or job skills and training. Placements should generally be in a community nearby the individual’s place of residence. This kind of training gives the participant training and skills specific to a position and can lead to unsubsidized employment with the employer. Indiana’s local Workforce Development Boards need to set placement expectations with the host agency supervisor and the participant that SCSEP is a gateway to employment. The objective of the placement is to transition off the project to unsubsidized employment. If a permanent position at that host agency is unlikely for a particular employee, then SCSEP personnel make it clear that active assistance in the search for permanent employment elsewhere is the alternative expectation. Some of Indiana’s WorkOnes employ SCSEP participants to help administer other workforce programs. This allows the individual to gain experience, increases local capacity, and maximizes our federal investments. We intend to scale this practice to other WorkOnes throughout the state. Indiana can also use our Hoosier seniors with diverse backgrounds to work in roles that require various language and/or cultural competencies.[13] We plan to create a State Earn and Learn(State Program) for our seniors in our SCSCEP training programs through partnering with our Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship. This will incorporate both subsidized employment, digital literacy, and on-the-job training through sector partnerships. 

As we endeavor to better integrate our siloed programs to reverse our current trend of one program providing all resources for an individual, we must see where SCSEP can be incorporated into other training opportunities. The Green Thumb Project in Oregon is a SCSEP provider with a broad-based network of local and state organizations to improve the skills and well-being of seniors. Indiana can emulate Green Thumb’s network by coordinating the following programs towards meeting the needs of our seniors:

  • The SCSEP provider can serve as a liaison, case manager, and advocate for the individual’s needs, as well as provide the funding for the other programs’ services;
  • The WorkOne can offer pre-placement training to boost certain skills, such as digital literacy; and
  • Our community colleges can give participants more advanced or specialized training and the opportunity to earn or complete certifications and degrees.

Green Thumb in Oregon focuses primarily on developing IT skills, but, given the variety of job openings in Indiana, we could adapt this program to fit any of our sectors. Through this type of joint action, we hope our communities have a growing number of trained older workers who can now capitalize on employers’ needs for already trained workers.

In Southern Indiana, the Goodwill Industries(Philanthropic Program) of Evansville provides SCSEP services to Hoosiers. One way this organization is broadening its network is by leveraging its proximity to Indiana’s border. This program also serves residents and works with businesses in Illinois and Kentucky. Goodwill helps older job seekers learn new job skills while training at public and nonprofit organizations in their communities. Its employment specialists provide needs assessments, create individual employment plans, administer basic skills classes, and assist in job placement, training, and eventual transition to unsubsidized employment.

While the overall strategy of Wagner-Peyser for addressing this target population’s impediments  – focusing on transparency about what qualifications and skills employees need to advance and on labor market information – applies to this subgroup, we could potentially further tailor these funds towards identifying those jobs and skills that suit this specific population. For example, since many seniors are interested in part-time work, these funds could be geared towards making those connections. It could also supplement the career coaching and counseling offered through SCSEP with labor market information and job searches assistance and placement. This can also fund career exploration activities, such as talent tours, informational interviews, and mentorship. Like other target populations, business services funded through Wagner-Peyser should help provide insight and perspective into both the unique benefits and characteristics of this population

Nationally, 20% of SCSEP participants had low literacy skills, and 10 percent had limited English proficiency.[14] Given the potential overlapping needs of those in SCSEP and those in Adult Education, any senior needing academic services should be co-enrolled into Adult Education. In particular, WIOA Title II can fund digital literacy instruction for seniors. These services should be provided in coordination with those outlined above in SCSEP to facilitate enrollment, as well supplement a senior-specific State Earn and Learn. Depending on the individual’s needs, Adult Education could fund the bulk of education and training costs, with SCSEP or WIOA Adult serving as the gap filler.

Similarly, 15% of SCSEP participants had a disability.[15] If an older individual has a disability, s/he may qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. Unless an individual has a significant disability, which would require intensive and specialized career coaching and ongoing support, this person will be co-enrolled into VR and SCSEP through the WorkOne. VR will help provide any assistive technologies, accommodations, or auxiliary supports the individual may need for training or job placement.

For single parents needing to be upskilled or reskilled, children are both the motivation and barrier to completing education and training programs. For this subgroup, there are three key policies that need to be coordinated – WIOA, TANF, and the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). As the primary caretaker of their children, single parents face tremendous struggles balancing childcare and making ends meet. The average annual cost of infant care in Indiana is $12,612; and childcare for a 4-year-old costs about $9,557.[16] On average, infant care in Indiana costs more than in-state tuition at a four-year college. Accessing and affording childcare is out of reach for low-wage workers because of the scarcity of childcare options and its expense. Families with more than one child face an even steeper financial climb. Single parents do not have the option to stay home to take care of their children nor can they sacrifice income for an education or training program. The added element of an educational or training program is often untenable for these individuals. Without that training opportunity, though, that parent might be unable to advance to a family-sustaining wage. In order to effectively provide upskilling or reskilling options to this subgroup, we need to integrate these three crucial policies.

The Combined Plan offers Indiana a singular opportunity to examine and integrate these policies systemically. Single parents often experience time poverty, where they do not have enough time for educational opportunities after taking into account the time spent working and being a parent. Like other target populations, single parents face the struggle of education versus working – if a single parent is in class, then they are often not making money to provide for his/her family. Single parents also intersect with other target populations emphasized in the Combined Plan, such as Low-income Adults and Urban Populations.

Childcare is often the major barrier to this subgroup’s enrollment, persistence, and completion of education and training programs. Food and housing insecurity can also preclude single parents from seeking upskilling opportunities. Education and training, however, can be critical to the economic security and mobility for single parents and their families. Quality childcare and early education are not just essential for parents seeking education and training to attain economic security and mobility, but it is also critical to children’s healthy development and educational success. Better blending of our workforce development and childcare policies will provide Indiana with a key two-generation strategy.

One specific challenge facing single female parents is our occupational segregation. For every seven men who work in occupations that are most threatened by technological change (have a 90% or higher likelihood of being eliminated by technology), there are 10 women in such jobs. Though women comprised 47% of the workforce, they represent 58% of those at the highest risk of losing their jobs due to technology. Latina women, in particular, face the highest risk of job automation with 1 in 3 working in high-risk occupations.[17] Women will be some of the first Hoosiers to feel the effects of automation and artificial intelligence. Bridging the skills gap through upskilling and reskilling programs is essential to facilitate greater economic mobility. If moms are only receiving preparation and training that will lead to low-wage work, even if childcare is provided, the training will only reinforce patterns of gender wage disparity and occupational segregation. We need to prioritize these women in our middle-skill training opportunities. In the realm of middle-skill occupations, higher paying work for women means nontraditional work in which women are drastically underrepresented, but better paid. Working with our WorkOnes, employers, and philanthropic partners, Indiana should be advocating for women to gain skills and careers in nontraditional sectors, which will mean also including nontraditional training options to allow them to balance the pressures of being a single parent.

WIOA Adult (Core Program) can focus mostly on training and education with the childcare programs below providing that supportive service. These education and training opportunities must add value to the individual’s skill development and aspirations. Because single parents are time poor, if a program is not a value-add, participants will disengage to avoid wasting time that could be spent with family or earning money. Education and training programs must also build flexibility into their courses. Leveraging technology and various platforms to provide on-line courses or synchronous learning (offering a class in-person and via technology simultaneously) will assist this population with persisting and completing programs, since there is greater flexibility to learn on one’s personal timetable.

Specifically, for single mothers, training needs to emphasize nontraditional careers. This training should prepare women to enter the high growth, higher-paying advanced manufacturing industry, with a focus on the construction skill craft and building trades, through providing career and technical training in careers such as welding, pipefitting, ship-fitting and electrical. This will both promote higher wages and address occupational segregation. Additionally, our postsecondary Carl D. Perkins(Partner Program) funds can help single mothers access career exploration and engagement activities through our community college campuses. This will allow these Hoosiers to learn about nontraditional fields and opportunities. Perkins funds can also help fund the equipment, facilities, and gaps for career pathways in these various sectors at secondary or postsecondary schools.[18]

 

IvyWorks (Sector and Institution of Higher Education Initiative) is a program Ivy Tech Community College designed in partnership with Indy Women in Tech to give female students the support they need to earn industry-backed credentials and build a career in Indiana’s fastest-growing fields. IvyWorks provides strategic professional development, business networking and wraparound support, so participants can earn their degree and excel in their career. Ivy Tech offers a variety of programs in high demand fields, which were designed with input from industry leaders. By partnering with high demand programs in business, supply chain management/logistics and technology, IvyWorks increases access to workforce credentials and associate degree programs. IvyWorks has several benefits that set it apart from other programs: 

  • Flexibility: This program works with students and employers to provide flexible class scheduling and advising. Class offerings include both in-class and online options.
  • Professional Development: IvyWorks provides specialized soft-skill workshops and offers one-to-one career advising.
  • Career Networking: Students in IvyWorks are able to connect with the labor market and expand career pathways through site visits, employer panels, and hiring events.
  • Innovative Courses: IvyWorks’ curriculum was designed in collaboration with industry leaders, allowing students to learn the exact skills they will need to thrive in the workplace after graduation.
  • Wraparound Support: IvyWorks staff work to identify and connect students to resources that support their success and independence. 
     
    Greater access to registered apprenticeships in the skilled trades can help single mothers achieve economic security and fill predicted skills shortages in these sectors. From pre-apprenticeships to registered apprenticeships, opportunities to earn and learn in these trades provide good careers with family-sustaining earnings and long-term employment prospects. While apprenticeships in the trades offer good jobs with benefits, only a small minority of apprentices in the trades are women. Pre-apprenticeship programs can provide women with the foundational skills, supports, networks, and knowledge needed for entering and succeeding in an apprenticeship. Similarly, State Earn and Learns (SEALs) (State Program) through the Indiana Office of Work Based Learning and Apprenticeship can offer non-traditional apprenticeships in health, IT, and agricultural biosciences. SEALs can offer single mothers opportunities to gain college credits and on-the-job training for middle-skill roles in Indiana’s advanced industries. As our WorkOnes help promote these opportunities to single mothers, our business services need to simultaneously work with our businesses to make them inclusive and welcoming for women. As we promote non-traditional hiring practices through our business services representative, employers start to tap into this viable talent pipeline to fill jobs at various entry levels. Indiana can adapt resources and strategies identified by the National for Women’s Equity in Apprenticeship and Employment.[19]
     
    Another subset of single parents are those who are either custodial or non-custodial parents through Indiana’s Child Support Program, which is a partnership between the Indiana Child Support Bureau (CSB), a division of the Department of Child Services (DCS), and the 92 county prosecutors, clerks, and courts. Securing a quality job allows non-custodial parents to pay child support, though this can be a difficult obstacle for many non-custodial Hoosiers to surmount. If parents do not provide child support, it can further the cyclical nature of poverty in many of our communities and further splinter communities with potential incarceration. Connecting both custodial and non-custodial parents with opportunities to upskill/reskill as a means of earning higher wages through stable employment helps with current economic needs and also prevention of future economic instability in Hoosier families. Providing Hoosiers with the skills to access wages to pay child support is an intergenerational strategy to improve economic mobility.
     
    Child support is implemented by the local county child support program offices throughout the state. As a tool for these programs to get Hoosiers the support needed to make child support payments and avoid enforcement actions, these programs can compel non-custodial parents to make appointments at WorkOnes for career and employment services. To fulfill this requirement, WorkOnes can enroll non-custodial parents into Wagner-Peyser services, at a minimum, to assist with career counseling and creating employment plans. This is just a first step in providing awareness and information into the various training programs and opportunities Hoosiers can access at little to no cost. WorkOnes can then co-enroll custodial or non-custodial parents into WIOA Adult or Title II for additional services, such as upskilling/reskilling education and training, obtaining a high school equivalency, or other employment services. As well, WorkOnes can also connect custodial and non-custodial parents to pre-apprenticeship programs to help them get their foot in the door to more stable employment in the trades. Through an interagency Memorandum of Understanding, DCS can access Indiana Career Connect through DWD to verify the non-custodial parent’s enrollment into a WIOA Core Program.
     
    Both custodial and non-custodial parents face the same barriers as the larger subgroup of single parents, such as childcare and skills gap. Enrollment in WIOA Core Programs, as well as SNAP and/or TANF E&T, can help provide the tuition and fees for education and training and related wraparound supports. One obstacle that some custodial and non-custodial parents face is current or former incarceration. For those that intersect with the Ex-Offender target population, specific solutions to those barriers are presented in that section.
     
    Single parents face a range of challenges navigating workforce and childcare policies: the complexity of arranging childcare with education and training activities, as well as around working and earning an income; limited information or awareness about childcare options; financial constraints and limited access to childcare subsidies or low-cost/free care options; and limited supply of good quality care overall, specifically in certain regions of the state. Many areas in Indiana are ‘childcare deserts.’ Most Indiana census tracts (an area of approximately 2,500 to 3,000 households within a county) have a ratio of 0.33 to 1.49 childcare spots to children under 5. 281 tracts were categorized as childcare hubs, while 149 tracts were identified as childcare deserts. Both hubs and deserts have reasonably high numbers of jobs and children, while hubs have sufficient childcare availability and deserts do not.[20]IN childcare desertsChildcare deserts key[21]
    Though the workforce development and childcare systems often have overlapping goals and target populations, there are also policies and incentives that create barriers to access; they are complex to navigate due to multiple sectors, actors, and agencies; and they often operate separately. It is an economic imperative for Indiana to increase access to early childhood education. The lack of access to childcare in Indiana is costing the state severely:
  • $1.8 billion in direct cost to employers;
  • $1.1 billion in lost economic activity every year; and
  • $118.8 million in lost tax revenue.[22]

Often, a single parent’s ability to hold a job depends on whether there are available childcare or early learning facilities near their home or workplace. For example, there are few options for childcare needs that extend beyond the typical 6:00 am – 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday schedule. The lack of childcare during nontraditional times can prohibit a single parent from enrolling into an education or training program in the evenings or on weekends. This can also be an issue for Hoosiers looking to have a second or third shift at work to balance on-the-job training or an education program. Additionally, lack of childcare or flexibility for sick children can prohibit single parents from attending class or job.

To increase the access of our workforce development programs to single parents, we need to design education and training services that also facilitate access to childcare. Case managers should help parents find childcare options and potential subsidies. Assessing participants’ childcare needs as part of the intake and planning processes, as well as including follow-up and on-going support, is another critical step for this subgroup. Ensuring access to childcare is coupled with access to education and training will be addressed through how we can braid our federal and state programs (such as WIOA, CCDF, TANF, SNAP E&T, and On My Way Pre-K) will be examined further below.

Because of the variability of childcare options and quality, we look forward to our local workforce boards assessing childcare access and costs in their local regions to determine gaps in availability. Our Workforce Development Boards can determine if partnerships with local chambers, employers, or community foundations could help ease this potential barrier. Potential partnerships with secondary or postsecondary Child Development programs, in which students are engaged in their 400 hour practicum to earn their Child Development Associate license, may provide some local boards with an opportunity to have childcare during nontraditional hours. These programs could be built up using Perkins funding or receive a premium rate during these off-hours of care. Our local boards can determine other types of incentives and solutions for this critical issue based on local needs and inflection.

At the state level, we need to increase communication and program development between our Department of Workforce Development and Family and Social Service Administration. With both agency heads members of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, we intend to leverage the state workforce board as a convener to bridge our childcare and workforce development services. At the local level, childcare staff should work closely with education and training experts to help ensure programs reflect both the realities facing parents engaged in education and training and the kinds of workforce development programs and services available to families. As our education and training providers develop programs, they should include childcare and other social services in the planning and development phases to remove any potential logistical barriers a participant may have.

One example of this is presently occurring at the Excel Centers(State and Philanthropic Program), which is operated by Goodwill Industries. This is a state and philanthropically funded program that provides high school education to adults. Childcare is offered on the premises of the Excel Centers, meeting single parents’ educational and family needs. Similarly, in our workforce Region 8, childcare is offered onsite for Hoosiers participating in employment and training services. We seek to scale this type of co-locating services not only to our WorkOnes and providers, but also to our community college campuses to remove this potential barrier to participating in or completing a workforce training.

Access to childcare would help single parents overcome a significant barrier to engaging in education and training opportunities. This may entail co-enrollment into both WIOA Core Programs and into the Child Care and Development Fund (Federal Program). Though WIOA dollars can help support childcare costs, by coordinating co-enrollment of single parents into both programs, we can ensure the continuity of care to prevent breaks in service, stretch our workforce investments, and continue to build the supply of quality care to support the needs of parents in education and training. This will require simplifying administrative processes of enrolling in both programs.

Indiana has made good strides towards prioritizing low-income parents for CCDF vouchers. Currently, parents/foster parents who are working, going to school, or have a referral from Department of Child Services (DCS) or a referral from TANF or SNAP receive priority access to CCDF funding. Individuals must earn less than 127% of the federal poverty line to obtain a voucher; to maintain that voucher, parents can earn up to 85% of the state median salary (around $43,000). As we further coordinate our SNAP/TANF E&T and IMPACT programs with our WorkOnes, we can advance referrals and enrollment to CCDF for childcare assistance, provided the individual meets the income eligibility. In the future, we will couple our federal childcare funding with our state program, On My Way Pre-K, and with our TANF block grant. By allowing CCDF to fund a portion of our single parents’ childcare, this lessens the strain on using our WIOA dollars for this wraparound support and allows for those to focus on employment and training services.

While we currently use our TANF block grant to augment our CCDF vouchers, Hoosiers still face a steep benefits cliff once their income starts to improve. Because childcare can cost around $9,000 in Indiana, loss of a childcare voucher due to income ineligibility can be a disincentive for Hoosiers to move into higher paid positions. We want to examine how we use all of the funding in our TANF block grant to continue to subsidize Hoosier’s childcare vouchers as their wages increase, rather than the current sharp drop-off of benefits. By continuing childcare subsidies for those slowly moving into higher paid positions, we can negate the deterrents the benefits cliff has on economic mobility.

If a single parent is unable to receive a childcare voucher through CCDF, we can co-enroll that individual into On My Way Pre-K (State Program). Indiana established the eligibility for On My Way Pre-K to mirror that of CCDF. The primary difference in these two programs is that On My Way Pre-K focuses on provider quality. Parents can only use their state voucher at a childcare facility that is rated a 3 or 4 on the Paths to Quality. A level 3 childcare facility has planned curriculum guides for child development and school readiness. A level 4 has national accreditation.

As of May 2019, families living in any county in Indiana may be eligible for On My Way Pre-K. In order to qualify, parents/guardians in the household must have a service need, such as working, going to school, attending job training, which makes this program ripe for co-enrollment with our WIOA services. All On My Way Pre-K vouchers are full time, allowing children to receive the time they need to prepare for kindergarten, even if the parent works or goes to school part-time. Families must earn less than 127% of federal poverty level to qualify for a voucher. Similar to CCDF, these vouchers have a steep income eligibility cliff for recipients that can be a disincentive to higher wages. We endeavor to apply the same stair step process of gradually decreasing the subsidies for childcare for CCDF to our state program, as well.

Early Head Start and Head Start (Federal Programs) promote the school readiness of young children birth to five in local communities by providing a comprehensive approach that focuses on education, health, parent involvement, and social services. These social services could include job training and housing assistance for parents. To help low-income parents access training opportunities, we must promote our WorkOne employment services and the bevy of upskilling/reskilling programs our state offers. Locally and at the state-level, we will leverage our Head Starts to provide endorsed marketing materials about education and training programs to parents. Our co-enrollment and co-location strategies are not solely focused on our WorkOnes, but how can we imbue any and all touchpoints with our target populations with these principles. Additionally, integration of our programs does not stop at just our workforce development system. Indiana’s annual Head Start assessment states that providers would like more support on how to blend and braid funding with CCDF vouchers, On My Way Pre-K, and Elementary and Secondary Education Act-Title I funding. Across all of our programs and agencies, we need to apply our Combined Plan Goals to integrate our program, maximize our investments, and focus on the individual’s needs.[23]

Early Head Start serves pregnant women, infants, and toddlers to age 3, and Head Start serves children ages 3 to 5. Federal eligibility guidelines state that (most) children and pregnant women must also fall into one of the following categories:

  • Children from families with incomes below 100% of the federal poverty line;
  • Children from homeless families;
  • Children from families receiving public assistance (such as TANF); and
  • Foster children are eligible (regardless of foster family’s income).

Overall, we need to work to increase the availability of Early Head Start in Indiana. There is a high unmet need, which is undoubtedly negatively impacting Indiana’s human capital. We must also promote partnerships between childcare and early learning providers and our K-12 schools, community colleges, and WorkOnes. This strategy could encourage more new or existing grantees to apply.

Some single parents may qualify for TANF cash assistance; these individuals would be an intersection of the low-income and upskill/reskill target populations. As explained in the Low-Income Adult section, we will increase the co-enrollment of participants in TANF in our WIOA Core Programs. This will allow for joint service delivery and sharing resources. As we increase the co-location of our programs, we will explore the possibility of all TANF case management related to connections to employment and training services is conducted at the local WorkOne. TANF can also be used to help with wraparound supports in addition to childcare, such as transportation and living expenses. Like TANF, SNAP (Partner Program) could be another funding source to help with supportive services. If a single parent is receiving SNAP benefits, s/he could use SNAP E&T as a gap filler for expenses related to tuition and fees for trainings or administrative expenses. Blending SNAP E&T with WIOA and a childcare voucher (either state or federally funded) would allow for additional wraparound supports to be offered in addition to workforce training and childcare.

Early education is not merely an important workforce strategy for parents, it provides the foundation for children’s long-term health and educational outcomes. Quality early learningcomprehensively develops a child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad basis for lifelong learning and well-beingIt is a critical early intervention strategy for children who may be born into communities with higher risks. Early education from birth to age 5 can have substantial implications for healthcare, education, and prevention policy. Children who received high-quality early care and education from birth until age 5 enjoy better physical health in their mid-30s than peers who did not attend the childcare-based program.[24] Early childhood education serves as an early intervention that improves both children’s cognitive and socioemotional functions. Additionally, the achievement gap between at-risk children and their affluent peers begins at birth, persists throughout K-12, and has lifelong negative consequences, unless it is addressed early in a child’s life. Quality early learning helps address these early gaps for at-risk children and ensures they are ready to start school at the same level as their peers.

Over the next two years, Indiana will examine the structure of its programs and agencies. One development we endeavor to implement is to characterize our K-12 system as the PreK-12 system. Throughout Indiana, school districts and local communities have recognized the connection and importance of early learning and Pre-K with kindergarten and school readiness. Over 20,000 Hoosier students are enrolled in Pre-K through their school districts, illustrating that many of our districts have already made the transition from K-12 to PreK-12. One of our roles over the next two years is to further support and replicate those local communities’ early learning practices. Prekindergarten programs offer the most promise for increasing children’s school readiness and ensuring students begin their academic career on the right track.[25] To prevent Hoosiers from needing some of the interventions aimed at assisting at-risk youth students described throughout the Plan, this redesigned system, accompanied with additional coordinated investments, can help ensure those predisposed to be an at-risk youth never fulfill that label. 

Dislocated workers are individuals who have lost their jobs due to a layoff. They can vary tremendously in terms of their existing skills, previous occupations and industries, and prior wage levels. Despite this diversity in previous experiences, dislocated workers also tend to share specific characteristics due to being dislocated. These characteristics often include:

  • Significant psychological stress in response to being laid off.
  • Little information about current labor market opportunities.
  • No recent experience in looking for a job.
  • Substantial work experience and work maturity in one specific career or sector.
  • Existing occupational skills that may be obsolete or not in demand in the local economy.
  • Financial crisis due to lack of income and substantial household financial obligations.

Like the other subgroups of this target population, these Hoosiers need comprehensive employment and training services to help them access upskilling/reskilling opportunities and any transitional social services. One service dislocated workers may need is crisis adjustment services or other types of mental health assistance to help them cope with being laid off. The challenge with dislocated workers is that these individuals may go from economic stability to insecurity quickly. We want to avoid dislocated worker status sliding into long-term unemployment or low-income. Indiana’s WorkOne’s have a strong track record with Rapid Response teams to help these workers. Building off of our current successes in this area, we intend deploying our Rapid Response resources to anticipated layoffs and offshoring, coupled with Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits, as an early intervention strategy. Through earlier intervention and resources, we can prevent dislocated Hoosiers from needing government benefits for a lengthy period of time.

The first unique challenge facing dislocated workers is learning about the layoffs and plant closings in their area. Although the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) undoubtedly has greatly increased the knowledge of large-scale layoffs, this notice may not make all employees aware of large-scale layoffs in their community. Notification is the first step in assisting this target population. Once employees start to learn of potential dislocation, our Rapid Response teams, funded through WIOA Title I – Dislocated Worker (Core Program), quickly link dislocated workers to employment and training services. Dislocated workers need immediate assistance in coping with being laid off and developing reemployment plans so that they can make full use of their limited financial resources to support themselves during job search or retraining. Building off of our current Rapid Response success, we will connect dislocated workers to needed services before their layoff, in addition to our response efforts.

In coordination with WARN notices, we want to directly market upskilling and reskilling opportunities, such as Workforce Ready Grants, on-the-job trainings, and stackable credentials, to these employees. Using geolocation, we can promote both federal and state programs for training opportunities prior to the business shuttering its doors. Based upon skills assessment and prior experiences, Rapid Response and business services teams can connect individuals directly with local employers or occupations that align with an individual’s strengths, allowing for a continuous level of employment. Additionally, more Rapid Response teams can start working with potential dislocated workers prior to the business closing, allowing individuals to access services while they are currently employed rather than waiting until they are unemployed.

These early intervention services should be provided before layoff or as soon as possible after layoff. One strategy is providing key information about the skills of the affected workers and the likely transferability of those skills to other industries or occupations. Comprehensive pre-layoff services should address the immediate crisis needs of the affected workers along with the development of individual reemployment plans. Reemployment plans can include assessments of dislocated workers’ vocational aptitudes and interests, the transferability of their existing technical skills to other occupations, and potential barriers to reemployment. All employment and training services should be sensitive to the distinct needs of dislocated workers, particularly their work maturity and need for reemployment at relatively high wages.

Because of the tremendous diversity in dislocated workers’ previous experience, a broad range of retraining options should be offered. Basic skills and occupational upskilling/reskilling can be offered pre-layoff to help create a more seamless transition for dislocated workers. These services can also include: education and training to assist workers with limited basic skills in conjunction with Adult Education, training in occupational skills for new careers that build on existing skills, and on-the-job training in positions that match dislocated workers’ aptitudes and interests and that provide training in skills needed for stable employment at wages as high as possible.

As with our other Core and Partner Programs, Indiana needs closer coordination with student financial aid Offices. There are existing funding streams to help offset the cost of pursuing upskilling or reskilling trainings – such as the Pell Grant, Next Level Jobs, and the Adult Student Grant. Because our community colleges offer both non-credit and credit-bearing credentials that stack towards higher degrees, there are opportunities for dislocated workers to either earn shorter term certificates or pursue longer degrees. Indiana’s community colleges do need to have more flexible financial support and scheduling to help support the needs of dislocated workers facing financial stress due to unemployment. To facilitate access to upskilling and reskilling opportunities, we will increase the co-location of WorkOnes and our community colleges. Through satellite offices, mobile locations, embedded or itinerant staff, or virtual office hours via a chatbox feature, we need to expand how our WorkOnes collaborate with our community colleges. Having a satellite WorkOne on campus or vice versa provides visibility for the offerings of the community college. Another way to increase access to retraining opportunities is to include endorsed marketing from community colleges directly to dislocated workers through Rapid Response.

Additionally, community colleges can include Adult Education providers through contextual and bridge programs for those who need remediation. These programs coordinate academic and occupational instruction by providing basic educational remediation concurrently with, rather than as a prerequisite for, college-level courses. These “bridge” programs are often used in a number of community colleges and are typically one or two-semester interventions that aim to accelerate students’ acquisition of basic academic skills in a supportive learning environment. As we expand more unconventional co-location partnerships, including Adult Education in an accredited community college’s bridge program could allow federal financial aid and training support to supplement our WIOA Title II programs. This is also expedites retraining and reemployment efforts for Hoosiers. Dislocated Workers can use WIOA funds to help cover costs of prior learning assessments, which would allow them to place out of certain courses by showing mastery of content on an assessment. Our community college system could also examine ways to provide credit for work experiences or certifications to account for existing knowledge and skill mastery and to expedite the completion of an advanced degree.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) (Partner Program) program is a critical partner for the WIOA Dislocated Worker program and funding to support trade-impacted workers. Co-enrollment of workers covered by TAA in partnership with the WIOA Dislocated Worker or Adult program allows for the timely provision of individualized career services and can improve the overall effectiveness of both programs: WIOA Dislocated Worker can fund any trainings not covered by financial aid, and TAA can assist with income support and other employment services. In addition to funding training, TAA participants can utilize WIOA Dislocated Worker to also provide supportive services relating to childcare, transportation, dependent care, and housing assistance.

TAA provides eligible workers with access to case management and employment services, income support, job search allowances, relocation allowances, wage supplements, and a health coverage tax credit. It can also serve as a gap filler for any training costs. Additionally, TAA can help reimburse employers for on-the-job training costs, with up to 50% covering wages. If a TAA participant is co-enrolled with WIOA, our local Workforce Development Boards can use WIOA dollars to reimburse an additional 25% of training costs, totaling 75% of wages. Co-enrollment will help maximize our investments and help transition our workers dislocated due to offshoring. Through this braided approach, we can also take part of the financial burden off of the employer to help reskill our dislocated workers, thus providing greater incentive to engage with this target population.

TAA can specifically assist with subsidized income while a dislocated worker pursues education and training opportunities. TAA funds can also be used to support the related instruction component of an apprenticeship program, as well as any supplies or equipment expenses. TAA eligible workers may receive Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) income support while a trade-impacted dislocated worker pursues education and training opportunities if a dislocated worker enrolls into a training program full-time within 26 weeks of his/her layoff. Income supports may be available for up to 130 weeks of income support in the form of weekly cash payments. TRA income support coupled with financial aid or WIOA Dislocated Worker covering the tuition and fees for an education or training program can address potential financial barriers to allow for greater access and choice in programs.

Because Indiana will be a state that feels the effects of automation and artificial intelligence most profoundly, we are including a waiver to expand our application of TAA funds. Currently, TAA is accessible to those who lose a job due to offshoring or negatively impacted by foreign trade. We want to extend the reach of TAA to those who may lose a job due to automation. Through our waiver, we will be able to broaden the positive effects TAA can have on Hoosiers’ education and training opportunities, while still meeting the spirit and intent of TAA. Through this waiver, we can allow more Hoosiers to access opportunities to upskill and reskill without needing to rely on social services. We hope to expand our use of TAA in two ways: 1) Providing training dollars to employers to upskill/reskill the workforce for job changes due to technology and automation; and 2) Expanding TAA coverage to those who are dislocated due to automation. This expansion of TAA to include both reskilling and coverage due to job loss related to automation is a clear strategy to help us meet Goals 3 and 4 through services as preventative tactics against future need for government benefits and to maximize the full range of our federal and state investments. The proactive implementation of TAA coupled with the expansion of the safety net will allow us to design a talent development system that is not just reactionary but actively helps Hoosiers future-proof their skillsets.

To promote the variety of upskilling and reskilling options (specifically registered apprenticeships), Indiana can have its TAA and Rapid Response programming work closely with our unions and associations to provide services. Specifically, we can use a portion of our TAA funds to setup a peer counseling and mentorship program for dislocated workers. These funds would help connect dislocated workers with their peers in the same or similar sectors (either in-person or virtually) who can help with job search, development, and placement. Peer counseling could help destigmatize seeking government help and encourage Hoosiers to seek out additional services.

Because of the circumstances under which dislocated workers find themselves seeking government assistance, dedicated counseling regarding transferrable skills, potential occupations, and necessary retraining will support the re-employment efforts of these individuals. Through our community colleges, Indiana can focus our postsecondary Carl D. Perkins funding on structured career exploration experiences, interest assessments, and one-on-one career counseling sessions. A key component will be upfront, in-depth advising, which enables advisers and dislocated workers to work together to “troubleshoot” barriers early. Dislocated Workers can then continue to meet one-on-one with a career specialist. These career counseling sessions will help dislocated workers make appropriate choices, which in turn can help them get reemployed quicker.

Rapid Response teams must provide information regarding the assortment of workforce and social services available, how to contact the program, and how to enroll in the program. This can include credit counseling, community services, community college, employment services, and, specifically, Unemployment Insurance (Partner Program). To increase the interconnectivity of our programs, when 3% of workers from the same company inquire about UI benefits, those staff should notify TAA or Rapid Response staff, who then contact the employer to determine the size and timing of the layoff. This process can specifically increase the efficiency of Indiana’s identification of smaller-scale layoffs. Layoffs impacting less than a third of the workforce are exempt from WARN requirements, which can make targeting those dislocated workers with employment services and information more difficult for the State. Through more coordinated efforts among UI, WIOA Dislocated Worker, and TAA, however, more Hoosiers can learn about potential employment and training services when they experience a layoff.

In light of the recent changes to the Wagner-Peyser regulations that permits states to have increased staffing flexibility, Indiana will evaluate potential changes to staffing models and the state merit requirement over the next fiscal year. The Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, in conjunction with DWD, will monitor the potential for new TAA regulations and will conduct similar a similar evaluation of staff models with accordance with any finalized new stipulations or flexibility.

Per WIOA, a displaced homemaker is an individual who has been providing unpaid services to family members in the home. This person may have been depending on the income of another family member but is no longer supported by that income due to death, divorce, or separation. This term can also include a dependent spouse of a member of the Armed Forces on active duty and whose family income is significantly reduced because of a deployment. For this target population, a displaced homemaker also experiences difficulty in obtaining or upgrading employment.

Displaced homemakers face similar challenges as the other subgroups of this section. These challenges may include single parenting on a reduced income, competing in a technologically advanced job market at an older age, and lack of experience. Those who also held part-time jobs may have fewer challenges with résumé gaps and workplace experiences. Displaced homemakers may have some work experience, as well as the tasks mastered in their at-home career, such as tracking schedules, budgeting, and childcare. Similar to our senior Hoosiers, we need to holistically evaluate the skills and experiences a displaced homemaker has. Our employment service teams can encourage these individuals to go into a career that relies on skills they learned as a family caregiver (childcare, elder care, organization, purchasing) or use the opportunity to go into a field for which they have interest.

Additional strategies WorkOnes and training providers can adopt to assist displaced homemakers include:

  • Job counseling  and employment assistance by professionals and peers who recently entered the job market after a number of years as a homemaker. This could also include informational interviews.
  • Financial Management/Development through the provision of information and assistance with respect to financial matters including, but not limited to, life, health, home, and automobile insurance, taxes, estate and probate problems, mortgages, loans and other related financial matters.
  • Educational services through WIOA Title II, including assistance earning a high school equivalency, technical training through Integrated Education and Training, literacy remediation, digital literacy instruction, English language acquisition activities, or other academic remediation.
  • Outreach and Information Services with respect to federal and State government employment, education, health, and unemployment assistance programs that are determined to be of interest to and that benefit displaced homemakers.
  • Crisis intervention and counseling services through Medicaid.
  • Referral to community organizations to help with career exploration and informal training.

Displaced homemakers are also eligible to receive services under WIOA Dislocated Worker. Employment services can include basic, individual, and follow-up career services. Services for this subgroup can include occupational skills training, on-the-job training, entrepreneurial training, career advising, education planning, job readiness training, and customized training. Specific services displaced homemakers might require include:

  • Computer literacy training,
  • Financial management,
  • Assistance in preparing resumes and cover letters,
  • Referrals to community agencies,
  • Interview coaching, and
  • Possible assistance with day care during interviews or workshops, clothing, or transportation costs.

Similar to our other target populations, access to earn-and-learn and on-job-training opportunities are critical to upskilling this population. WIOA Dislocated Worker can help cover the cost of training, books, fees, and other educational expenses. Pre-apprenticeships and registered apprenticeships are good options to setting a displaced homemaker on a stable career pathway. As well, leveraging federal and state financial aid opportunities through the FAFSA could help offset the cost of training programs. The state Adult Student Grant and the federal Pell Grant could be two options for homemakers looking to upskill.

[1] Brookings Institution, January 2019. Automation and Artificial Intelligence: How Machines are Affecting People and Places.

[2] As defined in the Cambridge dictionary.

[3] 20 CFR § 684.130.

[4] Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2015. Good Jobs Are Back: College Graduates Are First in Line.

[5] Georgetown University defines middle-wage jobs as those that “pay $32,000 to $53,000 per year for a full-time, full-year worker” (Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2015).

[6] Ibid.

[7] Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2011. The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings.

[8] Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 2019. Despite Rising Costs, College is Still a Good Investment.

[9] Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 2018. College Return on Investment Report 2018.

[10] Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2016. America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots.

[11] This is contingent upon the individual earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level to meet TANF Purpose #2: “End the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage.”

[12] Posthuma and Companion, 2009. Age Stereotypes in the Workplace: Common Stereotypes, Moderators, and Future Research Directions.

[13] This is a practice adapted from the National Asian-Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) project, which works with host agencies to tailor on-the-job training for participants of different languages and cultures. (Strategy 4.5)

[14] U.S. Department of Labor, September 2012. Evaluation of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).

13 Ibid.

[16] Economic Policy Institute. The Cost of Childcare in Indiana.

[17] Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2019. Women, Automation, and the Future of Work.

[18] Through our Combined Plan, we can align our programs of study under Perkins and our career pathways under WIOA. Connecting our career pathways with programs of study into one concept allows Indiana to serve both adults and high school students through coordinated, aligned, and structured pathways leading towards recognized postsecondary credentials.

[19] The National Center for Women’s Equity in Apprenticeship and Employment at Chicago Women in Trades (CWIT) provides strategies and practical applications to increase the number of women entering and being retained in registered apprenticeship through our online resources, technical assistance, and training.

[20] INcontext, January-February 2019. Child care desserts.

[21] Early Learning Indiana, 2019. Deserts & Hubs: Child Care Access across Indiana – An ELI Story Map.

[22] Indiana University Public Policy Institute, 2018. Lost Opportunities: The Impact of Inadequate Child Care on Indiana’s Workforce & Economy.

[23]2019 Indiana Head Start and Early Head Start Needs Assessment Report.

[24] Campbell et al., 2014. Early Childhood Investments Substantially Boost Adult Health.

[25] Brookings Institutions, 2012. Starting School at a Disadvantage: School Readiness of Poor Children.

 

The Indiana Department of Correction currently houses over 25,000 adults and 450 juveniles amongst state correctional facilities.[1]  Since 2016, Indiana’s jail population has increased by 32%.

Size or prisons and jails

[2]

In 2018, an estimated 16,000 Hoosiers were house in local jails, with another 107,000 on probation. The IDOC had 25,269 adult offenders dispersed among 18 facilities in 2018, with an estimated additional 8,000 under parole supervision.”[3]Of offenders released in 2015, 33.78% were recommitted to the IDOC within three years of their release date, for either a new conviction or a violation of post-release supervision. Though this is a lower recidivism rate than that of the past, it still poses a great strain on the criminal justice system and Indiana’s economy. The social effects of recidivism can perpetuate the cycle of intergenerational poverty by fragmenting neighborhoods and fracturing families. The cost per offender per day was $54.28, totaling $1,371,601.32 per day to house the IDOC population.[4] Due to legislative changes in 2015 to the criminal code, more offenders are being housed in communities at local jails.

Hoosier offenders who participated in a work release program were 34.9% less likely to return to prison when compared to offenders who did not partake in a work release program.[5] IDOC data show that as an offender’s level of education increases, so does the likelihood of employment. With this increase in employment, the likelihood of recidivating decreases. The goal is to help this population of Hoosiers avoid recidivism by providing them with skills and opportunities that will allow them to engage with the workforce and create a sustainable lifestyle for theirs and their families’ future. Improving the livelihood of this population benefits our workforce by adding to our human capital and create more efficiencies in our workforce and social services system to maximize our investments in these state and federal programs.

One vital key to successful re-entry for many Hoosiers being released from the correctional system is employment. In order for ex-offenders to become rehabilitated and integrated into society, they require a stable, legal means to provide for themselves and their families. Failure to find this at a rapid pace can often cause people to turn to inappropriate means of financial sustainability, which often leads to returning to into the criminal justice system. 

Co-Enrolled Programs: Hoosiers who are current or ex-offenders will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities, Activities outside of the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor this target population.

Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry (State Program): The Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry (HIRE) program was created in 2012 under the umbrella of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development to help people with past involvement with the legal system reintegrate into society and to create career paths to give them the opportunities to improve their lives in a sustainable way through work. In 2018, the recommendation was made to realign the HIRE program under the Indiana Department of Correction to better serve Indiana’s incarcerated Hoosiers. Since the transition to IDOC in early 2019, HIRE staff have begun working to secure pre-release employment for clients, rather than waiting until an offender’s release. HIRE has also introduced the opportunity to connect employers with potential candidates through successful virtual job fairs, as well as hosted Employer Days, where businesses can tour Indiana Correctional Industries (ICIs) shops (pallet shops, commissary shops, etc.).

HIRE works with clients both pre/post release to secure employment. Offenders who display a positive track record during their incarceration, participated in programming opportunities during incarceration, and show drive and determination may qualify for the HIRE program. The HIRE program also established a presence in IDOC juvenile facilities to help reduce juvenile recidivism. HIRE Coordinators deliver all or applicable portions of the HIRE Academy for participants that targets soft skills, workplace aptitude, and motivation. The HIRE Academy is required for all adult offenders who enroll in a vocational training programs within IDOC. If a HIRE client is not placed pre-release, the HIRE Coordinator will follow them through the parole process to make sure every employment opportunity is given to each candidate that is willing to put forth the effort and has the skills that matches each employer’s needs.

HIRE focuses on connecting released or soon-to-be released Hoosiers with full time, benefitted positions, earning livable wages. In addition, HIRE creates a pipeline of skilled workers to help Indiana businesses fill their employment needs. The HIRE program works with employers to understand their business needs and to determine the knowledge, skills, abilities, and aptitude that will make an employee successful in their organization. HIRE participants are placed in several different types of industries based on their skills and interests. The top industries for placement are production, manufacturing, restaurant, warehouse and construction. Employers that participate in the HIRE program may be eligible for Federal Bonding, which is a theft insurance program, and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) of up to $9,600 per eligible employee. If needed, the HIRE Coordinator can help walk employers through the paperwork process.

Indiana hopes to increase the reach of this program both pre-release and through parole in order to provide more Hoosiers with pathways to employment. We can utilize Wagner-Peyser (or SNAP E&T for SNAP recipients) to supplement and expand HIRE’s programming with additional career coaching, labor market research, and aide in the job search both in and out of facilities, for both incarcerated individuals and ex-offenders. Whether Wagner-Peyser is supporting HIRE through staffing or funding will depend on regional needs and plans. Additionally, WorkOnes can partner with local jails, probation and parole officers, drug courts, or non-IDOC criminal justice referral sources to recruit ex-offenders into programs, such as WIOA Adult and Adult Education. Through local plans, Workforce Development Boards can intentionally strategize how to connect resources and services for ex-offenders with local sheriffs and county jails to expand their reach beyond IDOC. Ex-offenders may intersect with other target populations, especially the more time lapses from their release. As has been emphasized in other sections of the Plan, case managers must understand a Hoosier’s needs holistically in order to present the best package of services.

Carl D. Perkins (Partner Program): Currently, Indiana grants $150,000 of Perkins funding to the IDOC to utilize for equipment and machinery for Career-Technical Education programs. This funding specifically supports training and upskilling offenders while they are incarcerated. Continuing to dedicate Perkins funds to providing quality environments for CTE operations while offenders are incarcerated will allow us to maximize other funding streams for those offenders to focus more on wraparound supports and job placement during their re-entry. Through an Integrated Education and Training model, which can be partially funded through WIOA Adult Education, we can help meet the academic and technical needs of this target population. The IDOC specifically focuses Perkins towards specific occupations that are most attainable for ex-offenders, coordinated with Indiana’s Promoted Certifications list:

  • Culinary Arts Food Service Management Occupations: The promoted certifications for hospitality and culinary arts are the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) industry certification and the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Food Manager. The IDOC and its primary education services provider Oakland City University have a long history with AHLEI in providing S.T.A.R.T. certifications and NRA ServSafe Food Manager certifications.
  • Building Trades Technology: During the past two years, Perkins funding has supported IDOC in providing the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certification status for seven adult sites.  The Promoted Certifications include NCCER Carpentry Level 1. 
  • Welding Technology with AWS Certification Added: Perkins funds have helped establish two NCCER certified welding programs during the last two plan years. IDOC offers American Welding Society (AWS) final performance assessments for NCCER sponsored students. IDOC students also take the NCCER CORE, NCCER: Construction Site Safety, and OSHA 10 Certifications. 
  • Certified Logistics Associate (CLA) and Certified Logistics Technician (CLT): IDOC with prior support through Perkins has established four operational CLA/CLT programs. The Promoted Certifications inmates can earn is the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) CLT with the passing of two final assessments, CLA and CLT.
  • Indiana Accredited Horticulturist Certification (INLA): Perkins helps support thirty individual students receive the INLA certification per year.
  • Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS): Currently, IDOC offers MOS textbooks and practice exams at ten sites. 
  • Master Student to Master Employee – National Career Readiness Certification (NCRC):  Though the NCRC is not on Indiana’s Promoted Certifications list, the NCRC does meet Indiana Code for mandatory skill sets required prior to release from IDOC custody.  IDOC will continue the program at ten facilities with Perkins funding. The NCRC is a portable credential that demonstrate an ex-offender’s workplace employability skills in Applied Math, Locating Information, and Reading for Information.

IDOC prioritizes education and often pairs vocational training for certifications with Indiana’s High School Equivalency to provide offenders with a nationally-certified CTE certification and a comprehensive portfolio to help them secure jobs at sustainable wages once they leave the facility.      

Title II – Adult Education (Core Program): Many inmates enter correctional facilities with limited reading and numeracy skills and academic deficiencies. The time and place to complete the HSE is during a current incarceration period. Almost 6,500 of the incarcerated adult population does not have a high school diploma or a high school equivalency diploma. Of the 6,500 non-diploma holders, 46% have academic functioning levels below the sixth-grade with the majority of the group having significant academic deficits in at least one skill.  The IDOC shifted several academic instructors to Career Technical programs during 2018 leaving 42 academic instructors in fifteen facilities to meet the literacy/HSE needs of the target population. 

When individuals are admitted into an IDOC facility, they are given opportunities to attain their high School Equivalency (HSE), as well as other educational opportunities. As well, every local adult education provider has funding set aside for services in county jails. Because of the need for academic and remedial support, it is increasingly necessary to offer Adult Education within our incarceration facilities, as well as co-enroll ex-offenders into Adult Education upon release. Increasing the amount of HSEs received while in correction facilities will allow ex-offenders to leave this system better equipped to display their skills and abilities. Earned the HSE illustrates that that individual can is prepared to enter the workforce and obtain postsecondary credentials. Currently, we spend about $1 million from WIOA Title II each year to serve 4,000 incarcerated individuals, located in both IDOC and local jail programming. The IDOC produces 19% of the State’s HSE completers with a pass-rate of 83%.  

As Adult Education focuses on the academic needs both incarcerated individuals and ex-offenders, Perkins funding can supplement Integrated Education and Training (IET) programs to provide them with technical skills. Program reviews reveal that Indiana has maximized the capacity of current instructors and potential measurable skill gains for students. To increase access to and successful completion of Indiana’s HSE will require more trained staff. Braiding WIOA Title II and Perkins funds would allow for CTE instructors to receive professional development for academic integration, increasing the capacity of current programs and potentially growing more IET opportunities.

One example of this type of blended programming is in Region 9. The Adult Education provider, River Valley Resources (RVR), has partnered with the IDOC and Ivy Tech to offer MSSC-CPT certification as an IET program at the Madison Women’s Corrections Facility. This class is co-taught between Ivy Tech and RVR teachers. These classes use braided funding of Adult Education IET dollars and non-credit bearing Workforce Ready Grant dollars, depending on the program year and student eligibility. Additionally, RVR enrolls and funds Madison Correctional Facility students in traditional AE programming at the prison to remediate basic skills and teach workforce readiness and employability to women for AWS Welding and NIMS CNC training at Ivy Tech. While IDOC funds the training portion of these programs, we hope to expand our use of Second Chance PellGrants to increase training opportunities for current and former offenders. Several Indiana institutions for higher education are in the process of leveraging the flexibility to use Second Chance Pell to fund both technical training certifications and two and four-year degree programs through the US Department of Education. Perkins could be used to help fill in funding gaps for technical training or equipment. This maximizes the time Hoosiers have during their sentences to focus on rehabilitation and upskilling, thus allowing them to have a smoother re-entry into the workforce.

Title I – Adults (Core Program): Probation and parole officers can provide referrals for former inmates upon release so that they can immediately receive access to WorkOne services. IDOC can have soon-to-be-released offenders begin to engage with WorkOnes virtually regarding re-entry requirements and resources during their final weeks in prison. WIOA Adult funds and resources can assist ex-offenders with education, employment, and training post-release. Once an individual becomes an ex-offender, services through a WorkOne can include individualized assessments to determine eligibility for career interests, skill levels (including literacy, numeracy, and English language proficiency), aptitudes, and abilities (including skill gaps). Through increased co-locating, cross-training, and embedding staff from both workforce development and social services, the WorkOnes can help with identifying social supports (e.g., housing and transportation) an individual may need when they re-enter.

For those ex-offenders needing employment and training services, the WorkOnes can prioritize the following needs:

  • Career and training services aligned to a designated career pathway, provided concurrently or in any combination, that can include:
    • Comprehensive and specialized assessments of the skill levels, including diagnostic testing, in-depth interviewing, and evaluation to identify employment barriers and employment goals;
    • Employability skills development (learning skills, communication skills, interviewing skills, punctuality, personal maintenance skills, professional conduct) to prepare for employment or training;
    • Education and/or training services;
    • Financial literacy services;
    • English language acquisition and integrated education and training programs (if the individual is not eligible for Adult Basic Education under Title II); and
    • Work-based learning.
  • WIOA Adult can fund any follow-up services, such as individualized counseling regarding the work place, how to successfully navigate the new environment, or any other additional services customized for the constituent. WorkOnes can also connect ex-offenders with local non-profits that provide comprehensive supportive services. One local example is CareSource, which assists ex-offenders navigate the release process and find customized resource options CareSource comes into the facilities to present during Pre-Release. Prior to release, offenders are assigned a Life Coach to assist with a multitude of resources during their reentry process. PACE in Marion County partners with the Workforce Development Boards in the Central Indiana region to provide ex-offenders with financial, employment, and mental health coaching, as well as other forms of wraparound supports and resources. Through local plans, our Workforce Development Boards can identify and leverage these types of philanthropic partnerships that can help Hoosier ex-offenders find economic stability after release to reduce their chances for recidivism. This will be increasing important for this population due to the drastic shift from correction institutions to the freedom and structure of the outside world and the workplace.

Title III – Wagner-Peyser (Core Program): For ex-offenders, this program can help fund career counseling (either in person or virtually), labor exchange services, and assistance for job searches and placement. Local Boards could partner with the Department of Corrections to allow incarcerated individuals to virtually through a chatbox feature with a career coach as a way to increase accessibility to WorkOnes prior to release. Because the prior convictions of ex-offenders can often be a significant barrier to obtaining quality employment, these funds should focus on career counseling and connections to specific employers or sectors that are welcoming towards ex-offenders. Those activities can focus specifically on:

  • Career counseling and development of individual employment plans;
  • Customized workforce and labor market information;
  • Business services to employers, employer associations, or other such organizations on employment-related attraction and retention, specifically helping to explain the barriers and unique circumstances of the formerly justice involved; and
  • Recognition and promotion of businesses that do hire and retain ex-offenders.
    • To help more businesses begin to hire and retain this target population, our business services team can help increase Hoosier employers using the WOTC. The WOTC reduces employer cost by providing federal tax credit for private, for-profit employers to encourage hiring of individuals from our target populations. The credit is 25% of qualified first year wages for those employed at least 120 hours and 40% for those employed 400 hours or more.  Employers maintain all hiring decisions and there is no limit to the number of new hires who can qualify for the tax savings.
    • Federal Bonding Program coverage is also available for individuals based on their history to assist in easing the concern of an employer by covering the potential or estimated risk to the employer for financial loss.

As a strategy to promote more non-traditional hiring practices, we will recognize Hoosier businesses that actively recruit, hire, and retain those in our target populations at both the state and local levels. Hiring this particular target population is often stigmatized and done quietly. Because Indiana has strong re-entry programs aimed at getting ex-offenders stable, quality work, we want those businesses that hire these Hoosiers to feel recognized and proud. Recently, a business represented on the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, Custom Concrete, promoted hiring of an ex-offender. Similarly, those businesses partnering with The Last Mile celebrate hiring Hoosiers in this target population. Because this is often an overlooked or unseen talent pipeline that can help boost our economy, both the state and locals must make or concerted effort featuring opportunities to engage with these Hoosiers and commending those employers that take advantage of this untapped talent pool.

Postsecondary Financial Aid (Federal and State Programs): The Second Chance Pell Program allows for ex-offenders to access federal grant money for postsecondary education. Institutions provide Pell Grants to qualified students who are incarcerated and likely to be released within five years of enrolling in coursework. Currently, Indiana has one institution that was selected as a Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, the Westville Educational Initiative (WEI). This is a partnership between IDOC’s Westville Correctional Facility and Holy Cross College, sponsored by Holy Cross. Classes are taught by Holy Cross faculty and carry Holy Cross college credit. In the summer of 2019, program recruitment occurred at four correctional facilities, and Holy Cross hopes to enroll almost 70 students at Westville by 2020.[6] With the flexibility to use Pell for vocational formats in addition to associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs, Indiana hopes to expand the use of Second Chance Pell to offer more options of postsecondary education in its state facilities.

Because Indiana hopes to expand the Second Chance Pell program to other postsecondary institutions throughout the state, we also are closely monitoring the pending reauthorization of the federal Higher Education Act that will allow for additional flexibility around Second Change Pell. This will drastically increase the amount of participants who will have access to postsecondary education while incarcerated. Additionally, we want to pair Second Chance Pell with the Ability to Benefit flexibility, potentially addressing two barriers ex-offenders face preventing educational attainment. AtB allows students who are concurrently enrolled in connected AE and eligible postsecondary programs, but do not have a high school diploma or equivalent, could be Pell eligible. WIOA Title II can fund academic remediation towards a high school equivalency for ex-offenders concurrently with enrollment in postsecondary courses with Pell Grants allowed through both federal flexibility offerings.

Though offenders are currently not eligible for our state financial aid for credit-bearing programs, they can access Workforce Ready Grants under Indiana’s Next Level Jobs programs for a non-credit bearing certificate. The IDOC and WorkOnes can promote non-credit bearing certifications to provide technical training to both offenders and ex-offenders. For those currently incarcerated, this state funding could complement the training through Perkins or Adult Education funding. As some inmates already having certifications and licenses, this program can offer the next step in a career path and a focused goal to discuss with a career counselor. For ex-offenders, pairing the Workforce Ready Grant non-credit bearing tuition funding with WIOA Adult could allow that individual an opportunity to access the training and supportive services necessary for a second chance upon release.

Another option for postsecondary education that can help offenders develop skills that will lead to employment is a registered apprenticeship. The occupations currently offered within the IDOC’s Apprenticeship programs tend to be in industries where second chance employment is supported. Through both HIRE and WorkOnes, ex-offenders can be actively connected to these opportunities, if they align with their interests. Because they combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction, an ex-offender could learn academic and technical skills and earn a stable wage, with the option for regular pay increases during and after the program.

Medicaid (Federal Program): When an offender has active coverage and enters an IDOC facility, IDOC sends a request to have his/her Medicaid coverage suspended. At 45 days or less from release, if the offender does not have active health coverage, an application is completed on his/her behalf by the Medicaid Processing Unit. IDOC requests activation the day of offender’s release. This helps provides a supportive service to the ex-offender immediately, reducing any lags or gaps in healthcare coverage.

Potential Enrollment:Additional services or co-enrollment a low-income Hoosier may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities,Activities outside the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor this target population.

Title IV – Vocational Rehabilitation (Core Program): If an ex-offender has a physical or mental disability that constitutes or results in a substantial barrier to employment, s/he may qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. Through a common intake process, the state will understand the multifaceted needs of an individual and where various programs can serve as scaffolding to our Employment and Training services through WIOA Adult and state programs, like Next Level Jobs. Based on the employment services need, low-income individuals with a disability and seeking employment should be enrolled into an education or training program via the WorkOne. For many low-income individuals with disabilities, the type of employment service and assistance may be best served by our WorkOne system because their barriers may not be disability specialized or focused in their nature. Contingent upon the individual’s needs and barriers, the WorkOne can offer the programming and funding for that person’s employment service, with VR serving as an supplementary support. Co-enrollment into VR could provide the individual with any accommodations or auxiliary supports needed for training, rather than relying on VR to be the sole source of support and funding. These supports can include:

  • Personal and vocational adjustment services,
  • Assistive technologies,
  • Rehabilitation technology,
  • Adaptive aids and devices and any associated training, and
  • Interpreter or reader services.
      
    As Indiana seeks to improve the integration of programs, we will explore potential strategies to embed VR services into facilities, either through Perkins or Adult Education programs, to help support offenders. As unaccommodated disabilities can perpetuate learning and skills gaps, examining ways to potentially incorporate assistive or rehabilitation technologies into facilities to support learning may help expedite the attainment of offenders during their incarceration.

TANF (Partner Program): More than 70% of released offenders are parents, increasing the odds that some may be eligible for TANF support. TANF E&T can assist with funding employment and training services in conjunction with the WorkOne. This funding source can also serve as a gap filler for wraparound or transitional supports. Many TANF recipients are deemed mandatory for IMPACT (Indiana’s employment and training program). Those mandated to participate in IMPACT are required to attend an Applicant Job Search Orientation and complete 20 days of Applicant Job search activities. IDOC and parole officers can inform IMPACT case managers and WorkOne staff of the eligibility of soon-to-be-released inmates, so that those potential courses mandated by the conditions of parole, job search at a WorkOne, or a transitional work program to count as time spent to meet the 20 days of Applicant Job search requirements. TANF E&T programs will coordinate with other Core Programs and administrative agencies to provide wraparound support services to assist participants. This could include transportation, childcare, equipment and supplies, and other supports an individual needs in order to access the labor market. The WorkOne, however, can provide the career services and job training for an ex-offender receiving TANF.[7]

SNAP (Partner Program):  Social services play a key role in supporting an ex-offender’s successful transition. These supports can help individuals while they work to attain self-sufficiency and avoid re-arrest and re-incarceration. SNAP can be a critical part of the re-entry support infrastructure through food assistance, but it can also serve as a resource for robust and targeted workforce development through SNAP E&T.[8] Ex-offenders are particularly vulnerable for recidivism right after release. Streamlining of access to social services for those leaving incarceration through IDOC can help them be better prepared for life outside of bars. Federal SNAP rules require that applications be processed within 30 days of filing. Similar to the Medicaid process, we can help expedite this process for ex-offenders by allowing them to apply for SNAP prior to release so that they can have access to benefits immediately after release. This can help alleviate some fear and allow ex-offenders to put all effort towards finding employment and meeting parole requirements. Executing this strategy may require a formal partnership via a Memorandum of Understanding between the IDOC and the Family and Social Services Agency.

We can also utilize SNAP E&T to help provide training programs for ex-offenders, as well as allow for some of the mandated parole activities (e.g., required classes) to qualify as E&T activities that contribute to job readiness. Career pathways for ex-offenders must include short-term credentials of value that will stack towards a career trajectory, options for on-the-job training, and flexible participation options (part-time, extended hours, and online modules). WIOA funds can fund a variety of work-based learning experiences with SNAP E&T filling any subsidy gaps.

The Last Mile (Philanthropic Program): The Last Mile (TLM) was created in California in 2014 to equip offenders with relevant job skills to propel them into tech careers when they are released. Indiana was the first state outside of California to adopt this successful coding program. The core curriculum includes HTML/CSS and JavaScript, WordPress, Node, AngularJS, React, and D3.js. Beyond these technical coding skills, they are also learn about how businesses function, working as a team, giving and accepting constructive criticism, building confidence, and how to pivot when they are heading in the wrong direction. Participants can also work on client-funded projects including website development and application, giving participants a chance to demonstrate the skills they’ve learned and create a referenceable portfolio of work. It develops highly marketable personal and professional skills that are relevant and competitive. TLM currently operates in 5 facilities in Indiana (2 adult female, 2 adult male, and 1 juvenile male).

This re-entry program accelerates opportunities for the formerly incarcerated by embedding training into the prison time. It also eases the transition by having established partnerships with businesses for job placement. The Last Mile presents a model for Indiana to mimic in its other training programs – focusing the training and education programs while the individual is incarcerated and orienting post-release services towards transitional help. Driving more Perkins funding towards IDOC can help create similar programs to Last Mile in different sectors that offer high-wage, high-demand opportunities upon release.

The Last Mile is recognized nationally and was a central focus of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board Meeting held at the Women’s Prison in December 2019. It sets the model that that re-entry transitioning must begin during incarceration and continue post-release with the end result of gainful employment.

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement these practices through strategic use of WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. Where applicable, local Boards or community organizations can coordinate with state agencies to apply for SNAP 50/50 FNS, which will serve as a 50% federal match for any state or philanthropic funding dedicated to SNAP recipients receiving Employment and Training services. These practices are Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, the practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our Ex-Offenders in surmounting their unique circumstances.

Goodwill Industries: New Beginnings (Philanthropic Program): Goodwill’s New Beginnings program has two locations currently, in Indianapolis and Bloomington. It has seen success with this program due to strong employer partners in the regions. The New Beginnings program a 6 months in lengths focusing on the development of soft and technical skills through a paid internship at the Goodwill Commercial Services warehouse and production facility with a coach to assist in transition elements for the employees. When a participant has built the skills necessary for steady employment, they are hired full-time at Goodwill or are referred to community-based employment services. Participants work a total of 40 hours a week on a varied schedule between 7am and 6pm. They also attend Career Days one day a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday) to assist with the search of permanent employment. 

They are provided with case management services throughout the duration of the program and are also assigned an Employee Resource and Development Specialist (ERDS) who provides support and assists with both vocational and wraparound needs. ERDS are responsible for ensuring that each participant completes goals in four of the following areas of importance:

  • Housing
  • Medical/Dental Care
  • Financial Skills
  • Support System
  • Professional/Life Skills
  • Full-Time Employment

We want to further the reach of this program and other communities specifically through SNAP 50/50. For those individuals who are on SNAP and in this type of employment and training program, we seek to use SNAP 50/50 to match the philanthropic funding going towards developing this individual. Similar to how we intend to use SNAP 50/50 for Employer Training Grants, this funding can assist with supportive services to ensure these Hoosiers have the wraparound supports needed to successfully complete this program. As our local Workforce Development Boards create their plans, they can identify similar programs that may be augmented through reverse referrals and obtaining a SNAP 50/50 match.

For this type of model to be successfully scaled, though, we need to foster strong employer partnerships. Because work is a key component of this model, employer partners are a critical asset for ensuring program participants’ success. While we have some businesses willing to partner with Goodwill and similar philanthropies to tap into this potential talent pipeline, we need to help more of our employers understand the financial and social benefits of including more non-traditional hiring practices. This is not merely a way for businesses to be civically engaged in communities, but it is also a way to shape and develop sustainable talent pipelines.

Similar to The Last Mile, this program can serve as a model for other training programs geared toward the individuals in this target population. As we look to scale best practices, our WorkOnes can partner with similar organizations to which they can refer ex-offenders. Additionally, IDOC staff can refer offenders to Goodwill either prior or immediately upon release. Connecting ex-offenders immediately with this and similar philanthropic programs will allow for a speedy re-entry into the workforce that will help prevent recidivism for those dedicated to the programs’ completion.

[1]Department of Corrections for the State of Indiana.

[2] Vera Institute of Justice, 2018. The New Dynamics of Mass Incarceration.

[3] Prison Policy Initiative, 2018. Indiana profile.

[4] Nally et al. The Impact of Education and Employment on Recidivism.

[5]  Indiana Department of Correction, 2018. 2018 Adult Recidivism Rates.

[6] Holy Cross Selected by Second Chance Pell Grant Program.

[7] Individuals who have been convicted for a felony are ineligible for receiving TANF.

[8]Section 4008 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) prohibits anyone convicted of federal aggravated sexual abuse, murder, sexual exploitation and abuse of children, sexual assault, or similar state laws, and who are also not in compliance with the terms of their sentence or parole, or are a fleeing felon, from receiving SNAP benefits. In HEA 1317-2018, Indiana lifted the ban on those with felony drug convictions from receiving SNAP benefits beginning in 2020.

 

Of the more than 20 million working age (18-64) people with disabilities, only 7.6 million have jobs. In 2018, 37.6% of U.S. civilians with disabilities ages 18-64 had a job, compared to 77.2% for people without disabilities, creating a 40-point gap in employment outcomes between people with and without disabilities. Though this is partly a reflection that older individuals comprised a large portion of the disability population, across all age groups, however, individuals with a disability were more likely to be out of the labor force than those with no disability. US Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate that, as of December 2019, 20.5% of people with disabilities participated in the labor force nationally, compared to a labor force participation rate of 68.7% of those without disabilities. The unemployment rate of individuals with disabilities i­s 7.0% nationally, compared to 3.2% unemployment rate of those without a disability. The Bureau of Labor Statistics considers unemployed individuals are those who did not have a job, were available for work, and were actively looking for a job in the 4 weeks preceding the survey, as compared to those who are simply not interested in employment.[1] State data show that in Indiana, of our approximately 3.1 million labor force participants, 178,000 individuals with disabilities are employed, which makes up about 5% of the workforce. Indiana’s unemployment rate for individuals with a disability is about 10.0%, a difference of over six percentage points with the general population. Individuals with disabilities have one of the lowest labor participation rates and, conversely, one of the highest unemployment rates amongst our target populations.

 

Individuals with disabilities are underrepresented in the nation’s fastest-growing fields, though are overrepresented in those that are declining. Occupations with the greatest amount of job growth for people with disabilities tend to have low-wages.[2] In 2018, nationally, individuals with a disability were more concentrated in service occupations (19%) than those with no disability (17.2%). Workers with a disability were also more likely than those with no disability to work in production and transportation-related occupations (13.9% compared with 11.8%, respectively). Persons with a disability were less likely to work in management, professional, and related occupations (33.7%) than those without a disability (40.3%). Data further indicate that 31% of individuals who are employed are only employed part-time.[3]

Sectors in which individuals with disabilities are employed

 

 

Sectors in which those with and without disabilities are employed

[4]

 

The Indiana Day and Employment Services Report provides some additional information as to where Hoosiers with disabilities are employed.[5] This report is a snapshot in time to illuminate where Hoosiers with disabilities spend the majority of their day and to assess any progress made for Hoosiers with disabilities toward competitive, integrated employment. The report indicates that for the individuals represented, employment status, the hours of weekly pay, and hours worked stagnated between 2013 and 2017. 2017 data of 13,317 Hoosiers finds that 29% are in individually competitive jobs, 27% are served through a sheltered facility work, 23% in non-employment day programming, and 19% are in alternatives to employment.

Primary work environment for individuals with disabilities

[6]

Wages for this population are particularly low, with individuals in sheltered facility work only making on average $2.85 per hour and individuals in competitive employment $7.96 per hour. The table below shows the type of work and the primary employment environment among 6,940 individuals in the Employment Report. Food service, grocery/retail, and custodial and housekeeping/laundry were the positions that most individuals in competitive jobs obtained, while assembly/manufacturing were the highest job categories for individuals in off-site group and sheltered facility work.

Type of work and primary employment environment for individuals with disabilities

[7] 

Individuals with a disability are less likely to have completed any form of higher education than those with no disability. Overall, this target population’s educational attainment rate falls far below their peers without a disability.

Educational attainment for those with and without disabilities

[8]

Among both those with and without a disability, individuals who had attained higher levels of education were more likely to be employed than those who had attained less education. Across all levels of education in 2018, however, individuals with a disability were much less likely to be employed than were their counterparts with no disability.[9] 

Co-Enrolled Programs: Hoosiers with disabilities will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities, Activities outside of the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor adults with disabilities.

Title IV – Vocational Rehabilitation (Core Program): An individual with a physical or mental disability that constitutes or results in a substantial barrier to employment may qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. When a counselor has determined an individual eligible for VR, the individual receives services and supports, which may include postsecondary training, to achieve his/her individual employment goals. For this target population, in particular, it is important that we acknowledge the unique circumstances of each individual without letting that person’s disability become a pretext for community disengagement or limited expectations. Vocational goals should be dictated by someone’s strengths, skills, and potential and not his/her disability and perceived barriers. For some, independent living and part-time work could be the ultimate goals; and for others it could be postsecondary education and middle- to high-wage careers. Though individualized vocational goals will differ for eligible individuals, every individual should be supported to reach his or her fullest potential.

Occasionally, when a Hoosier comes into a WorkOne and states that s/he has a disability, that person is automatically referred to the VR office, even if s/he is not eligible for services. VR services may not be the best fit for that individual either. The presence of a disability cannot be the sole determinant for workforce programming. Though this is one characteristic of this individual and it may contribute to employment related barriers, the fact that this person is seeking employment assistance is the most important factor at hand. Indiana needs to reorient our intake process to refocus on the employment needs of the individual, rather than his or her identifiers. Co-enrollment into VR could provide the individual with any accommodations or auxiliary supports needed for training, rather than relying on VR to be the sole source of support and funding. These supports can include:

  • Personal and vocational adjustment services,
  • Assistive technologies,
  • Rehabilitation technology,
  • Adaptive aids and devices and any associated training, and
  • Interpreter or reader services.

VR should be a resource for assistance and accommodations or a funding gap filler for wraparound supports for most Hoosiers with disabilities, rather than the default for each individual with a disability. VR can provide more intensive, specialized, or unique assistance for those requiring this program, e.g., supported employment or ongoing, on-site career coaching. For these individuals requiring more intensive disability and employment services, VR should be the primary point of contact and service delivery. For those individuals who are seeking employment services irrespective of their disability should be supported predominantly by the WorkOne or co-enrollment into multiple programs. By allowing VR employment services to provide the intensive and specialize employment and disability services aligned to an individual’s needs, the WorkOne becomes more accessible for more Hoosiers. We are shifting the system to serve more individuals based on their needs and barriers, rather than a singular characteristic. This long-term systemic shift will allow us to stretch our dollars further and serve more Hoosiers. Focus on the intensity of the need and barriers will increase Hoosiers’ access to a wider array of employment services to attain career sustainability and longevity. To maximize these dollars, we need to integrate this program as one workforce system resource for our individuals with disabilities and not the only resource.

Similar to how we intend to maximize our other WIOA dollars, Indiana seeks greater integration of federal and state financial aid into VR over the next two years. Through cross-training, VR staff will learn about the benefits of postsecondary education for all Hoosiers, as well as the variety of options and funding sources that individuals can pursue. Utilizing financial aid for interested VR participants meets two goals – 1) increases the diversity of talent seeking and attaining postsecondary credentials, and 2) allows for VR-specific funding to be stretched further. Information on the FAFSA, Adult Student Grant, Workforce Ready Grant, and other financial aid should be provided at VR offices and with VR staff at transition fairs. Additionally, VR counselors and case coordinators should assist interested VR participants in completing these financial aid applications to alleviate any burden to completing these lengthy forms may cause.

To help promote the co-enrollment of individuals with disabilities in multiple WIOA Core Programs, Indiana will pilot the use of Integrated Resource Teams (IRTs) in different regions. IRTs is one of the key strategic service delivery components of the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI), a project of the US Department of Labor. The IRT approach involves diversified service systems coordinating programs and leveraging various funding in order to meet the needs of an individual jobseeker with a disability. IRT begins with an individual who is determined eligible for services in multiple systems (two or more) and has established an employment goal that requires resources from all of these systems. Braiding funds through VR and WIOA Adult could help support this type of approach. It would also allow us to better prioritize WIOA Adult and VR funds when supporting the education and training of a Hoosier with a disability.

A Disability Resource Coordinator or other service provider supports the constituent by coordinating the various services to ensure the individual has the best chance at successfully fulfilling his/her goals. In the IRT model, the individual works with each provider to ensure a release of information is in place, so that all partners can create a plan with three key parameters: common employment goal(s), lines of communication, and sequence of services. Participating in an IRT can be instrumental for the individual, as it provides the opportunity to address multiple challenges to employment simultaneously and build a richly resourced plan. An IRT operationalizes the human-centered approach to our workforce and social service systems and can lead to the attainment of Hoosiers’ goals.[10] Through an initial pilot, we can determine promising practices in data sharing, a common intake and case management system, and ways to facilitate co-enrollment that increases an individual’s access to multiple sources of support.

Promoting the co-location of more services across the workforce and social service systems is one of our overarching strategies to create a deeper level of collaboration for this target population at the local level. Co-location of staff at WorkOnes or itinerant staffing models in high-trafficked locations (e.g., schools, community centers, and libraries) could decrease the burden of travel for individuals with disabilities, multiple intake processes, and paperwork requirements, therefore increasing access to a greater amount of opportunities. Currently, VR offices are physically co-located in the same building as the WorkOne in four locations in the state. Additionally, we have VR staff in 19 WorkOne centers at least one day per week, with some that are there multiple days per week. As VR is a Core Program under WIOA, increasing the co-location efforts, which could include physical, embedded or itinerant staffing, or mobile co-location, could be one of the first steps in expanding this strategy throughout Indiana.

After examining contracts, lease agreements, and site location, physical co-location may be a viable option for Core and Partner Programs. In those regions where it is not, other strategies to co-locate should be considered:

  • Embedding staff: Staff travel between different offices rather than being on-site full-time at any one location, regularly working in different places and with different program staff.
  • Using itinerant staff: These are staff members who come to the WorkOne (or another office) when called or requested and do not have a set schedule. These staffing models can bring services to where people are rather than concentrating programs and services in any particular center.
  • Mobile (or temporary) locations: This is an initiative that is sharing space with the local public library system, schools, local businesses and chambers of commerce, and other locations that have community engagement throughout the local area for a short period of time. This initiative seeks to expand the reach of workforce resources by going to places with high community activity, rather than waiting for Hoosiers to come into the office. This approach demonstrates how rural areas can adopt the regionalism emphasized in WIOA to the benefit of job seekers.

Co-location will facilitate real-time information sharing and referrals among staff, allowing staff to better align the activities of their respective case management systems, leverage existing resources, and increase opportunities for collective innovation that may lead to better service delivery approaches. The co-location of staff from our Core WIOA Programs in one location, especially, will foster the integration of service delivery, potentially generating creative approaches from our local Boards about how to better align and use limited resources. Inviting additional community partners to have a service presence at a one-stop center can also enhance the customer’s experience and chances for success, as well as ingrain that center into the community. Part of increasing co-location efforts will include advising local regions on strategies to ensure that jobseekers’ information is confidential in any/all co-located environments.

Adapting proven practices from other states, Georgia has developed a strategic partnership between their American Job Centers and VR offices. Some of Georgia’s VR counselors have entire case management clientele comprised of WIOA co-enrolled individuals, demonstrating how these two programs can work complimentary through strategic allocation of funding. Approximately 65% of all job seekers working with Georgia’s Disability Employment Initiative are also co-enrolled with their vocational rehabilitation program.[11] By replicating these efforts here in Indiana, we can increase workforce participation rates for Hoosiers with disabilities by making access to assistance and counseling more easily accessible, leading to more successful outcomes.

VR not only covers the cost of employment and training for those with significant disabilities, but it can also aide in the purchase of assistive technologies, accommodations, and wraparound supports once an individual secures employment. Title IV has extended length times of supported employment from 18 to 24 months providing more time for VR to support participants with the most significant disabilities after job placement to ensure independence and stabilization prior to case closure. It can be instrumental in ensuring that person maintains his/her employment beyond the 12 months of follow-up services under WIOA Youth; extended services for youth with the most significant disabilities are available through VR may be the better fit to ensure long-term employment.

Employers often want to provide accommodations so they can retain or promote valued and qualified employees; they may struggle in providing the best option, with the cost of the accommodation, or with the provision of training to the staff on how to access accommodations such as low vision software or other assistive technology or devices. VR can assist in these situations in a variety of ways. First, business service teams can help bring awareness to the misconception that reasonable accommodations are cost prohibitive. The majority of accommodations cost absolutely nothing to make, while the rest typically cost $500 or less.[12] Second, VR can serve as a convener in determining what accommodations or assistive technology best suits the individual’s needs to maintain his/her employment. Finally, for instance, an employer may purchase an assistive technology device or software (e.g. low vision software, CCTV screen, etc.) and provide VR training to the employee to ensure they can utilize the device or software effectively.

Title III – Wagner-Peyser (Core Program): Our goal of increasing employer engagement and non-traditional hiring practices particularly targets this population. Individuals with disabilities are unable to find work, are underemployed, or are relegated to specific occupations that do not have a positive career trajectory. The principal barriers to employing workers with disabilities include a lack of awareness of disability and accommodation issues, concern over costs, and fear of legal liability. Employers often are inclined to discount the potential of job seekers with physical, cognitive, intellectual, and or developmental disabilities early in the hiring process because they may not interview well, despite possessing strong qualifications for the job.[13] Through our business services teams, we must work with employers to increase hiring and retention of individuals with disabilities through both state and local initiatives. Our efforts to improve outcomes for this population will include a significant emphasis on business services to help employers understand the benefits of integrating individuals with disabilities into their teams and break down any perceived or real barriers an employer may have.

Wagner-Peyser staff can help employers see the benefit of making their hiring practices more inclusive of individuals with disabilities. As discussed in the Historically Underrepresented Minorities section, diversity is good for the bottom line. Inclusion of individuals with disabilities often has additional benefits for employers:

  • Individuals with disabilities stay on the job longer than participants without disabilities.
  • Across all sectors, individuals with disabilities have fewer scheduled or unscheduled absences than those without disabilities.
  • Regardless of sector, individuals with and without disabilities had nearly identical job performance ratings.[14]

The cost of providing an accommodation is often noted by employers as a potential barrier to hiring and retaining an employee with a disability. In a study performed by US DOL’s Jobs Accommodation Network, 389 out of 673 surveyed employers (58%) said the accommodations needed by employees cost absolutely nothing. Another 251 (37%) experienced a one-time cost. Only 24 (4%) said the accommodation resulted in an ongoing, annual cost to the company. Of those accommodations that did have a cost, the typical one-time expenditure by employers was $500. When asked how much they paid for an accommodation beyond what they would have paid for an employee without a disability who was in the same position, employers typically answered around $400. The cost of accommodations is often a misconception among employers. Our Wagner-Peyser staff can help dispel this misunderstanding by sharing information and raising awareness with employers and by connecting the employer with the VR Office, which can provide information regarding the accommodation or pay the cost for eligible VR individuals.[15]

Providing accommodations for employees with disabilities also creates multiple direct and indirect benefits for employers. These can include:

  1. Retention and/or promotion of a valued employee;
  2. Increased employee productivity;
  3. Elimination of costs for training new employees;
  4. Hiring a qualified person for a job;
  5. Improved morale;
  6. Improved customer service and increased customer base; and
  7. Increased overall productivity.[16] 

Bosma Enterprises is a non-profit organization that offers education, training, and job opportunities for individuals who are blind and visually impaired in central Indiana. One Hoosier, Sam Yeager, came to Bosma Enterprises’ Employment Services after earning his Certificate of Completion from Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. At Bosma, he gained job ready skills while participating in the Student Training and Employment Program (STEP). Part of his learning during STEP took place on the Production Line at Bosma Enterprises. He really liked to work with his hands. Sam was fortunate to have Renee Jewell as his Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, who was always supportive of his goals and believed that he was capable of anything he wanted to do. She worked as part of a team with Vincennes University Logistics Training and Education Center (VULTEC) and VR to set up a pilot training program.

Though Sam was hesitant at first, VR provided the supports necessary for him to be successful in this program; it arranged transportation and accommodations to be ready for his first day. Sam paid attention, participated, and stayed focused in the classroom. He excelled when he got out to the warehouse and was able to get hands on experience. He quickly learned how to stack pallets, use the hand scanner, and was able to help others in the class learn, as well. VR’s Business & Community Engagement team was able to connect Sam with the Human Resources Manager at Finish Line. He was hired by Finish Line within six weeks of completing the VULTEC program. Not only does Sam love his job, he is extremely successful. He is always pushing to do better. He works full-time, earning more money than he thought possible, and has employer-sponsored benefits. He can save towards a car while working towards becoming a bioptic driver, as well as working towards moving out of his parents’ house and living on his own if he chooses.[17] Sam’s story illustrates the potential for this target population to meaningfully participate in the labor market through the right kinds of supports, coaching, and opportunities.

Business service teams are a critical component to assisting this population obtains meaningfully employment. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (Federal Program), employers are required to make a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee if it would not impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business. Reasonable accommodations are adjustments or modifications provided by an employer to enable people with disabilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities. These accommodations should be tailored to each employee’s with disabilities unique needs. Reasonable accommodations can include:

  • Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities;
  • Job restructuring, modifying work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position;
  • And acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies, and providing qualified readers or interpreters.

Some employers may interpret ADA compliance as a legally fraught issue that can open them up to liability. For any VR staff member, it is critical that s/he understand the ADA and how it assists both employers and employees. Through cross-training efforts, we can also extend a basic understanding of the ADA to our Wagner-Peyser staff and business teams, so they can help employers understand the definition and costs of accommodations. Employer organizations recognize the importance of disability inclusion and are actively promoting strategies to members. The US Chamber of Commerce, as one example, provides tools to employers on ways to better include individuals with disabilities into businesses – from recruitment and marketing to retention and technology access.[18] These strategies are ADA compliant, but they benefit for the employer and employee. As we work to shift employers’ mindsets regarding this target population, we can use best practices developed by national organizations. 

Business service teams must also promote the federal tax credits to employers as an additional benefit to hiring individuals with disabilities. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has found that few employers take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC),ArchitecturalBarrier Removal Tax Credit, or the Disabled Tax Credit, which may be due a lack of awareness or understanding. These tax credits can encourage employers to hire individuals from this target group, as well as help offset any employer costs for accommodations. The WOTC reduces employers' federal income tax liability by as much as $9,600, depending on the target group. For example, an employer may receive a tax credit of $2,400 for hiring a short-term Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipient or a tax credit of $9,600 for hiring a veteran entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability who has been unemployed for at least 6 months. The Disabled Access Credit provides a non-refundable credit of up to $5,000 for small businesses that incur expenditures for the purpose of providing access to persons with disabilities. The Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction encourages businesses of any size to remove architectural and transportation barriers to the mobility of persons with disabilities and the elderly. Businesses may claim a deduction of up to $15,000 a year for qualified expenses for items that normally must be capitalized. Businesses may use the Disabled Tax Credit and the architectural/transportation tax deduction together in the same tax year, if the expenses meet the requirements of both sections.[19] In addition to the intangible benefits of hiring with individuals with disabilities, promoting these tax credits may alleviate some consternation employers may have regarding costs. In addition to creating greater awareness and understanding of accommodation costs, our business teams can help employers take advantage of federal tax credits which will help assuage any uncertainty.

In addition to tax credits, Wagner-Peyser and VR business services can inform employers and employees with disabilities about Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts. ABLE Accounts are tax-advantaged 529-A savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families. Contributions to the account, which can be made by either the individual or an employer, can be used to fund education and training, as well as wraparound supports (e.g., accessible housing and transportation, personal assistance services, assistive technology, and healthcare not covered by insurance). Similar to a College 529 account, ABLE accounts allow for individuals with disabilities to save for additional education, supportive services, and retirement.

One way to combat misconceptions of Hoosiers with disabilities in various occupations or sectors is through work-based learning experiences. Promoting this target population for these opportunities offers the individual to learn more about the job and allows the employer to see the person perform the duties, learn about the needed accommodations, and get to know the individual better. There are different kinds of work-based learning experiences we can promote for individuals with disabilities that will meet this two-fold goal. These include:

  • Talent tours (which occur at a business or higher education campus. These can provide exposure and orientation in various sectors and career paths. The tours can include presentations and information on potential industry offerings);
  • Informational interviews with local employers;
  • Job shadow experiences;
  • Working interviews, in which they perform specific tasks that better reflect actual job duties;
  • State Earn and Learn programs;
  • A pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship-readiness program;
  • Paid or unpaid internships; and
  • On-the-job training.

Wagner-Peyser and VR can also help facilitate genuine mentorships between businesspeople with disabilities and interested jobseekers with disabilities. These mentorships would be sustained over a period of time to help jobseekers learn about a career, discuss requisite knowledge and skills, make industry connections, and seek advice and counsel when the need arises. The most powerful aspect of a mentorship is for the jobseeker to see someone with similar barriers succeeding in a career interest, therefore knowing success is an attainable goal.

Wagner-Peyser staff can also promote employment of people with disabilities through the following strategies:

  • Hiring individuals with disabilities as employees in WorkOnes;
  • Partnering with self-advocacy and independent living organizations to provide auxiliary support to employers;
  • Ensuring that promoted job listings, job fairs, apprenticeships, and internships do not contain language or requirements that unfairly screen out people with physical, social, and developmental disabilities; and
  • Expanding customized employment, in which an employer and employee work together to customize a particular job to match both party’s needs, for specific businesses.[20]

By utilizing Wagner-Peyser staff to better expand these opportunities with local businesses, we hope to eradicate some misunderstandings and stigma that employers may hold against individuals with disabilities, creating more opportunities for all Hoosiers to be able to successfully engage in the workforce.

Title I – Adult or Youth (Core Programs): Many individuals with disabilities will be eligible to be co-enrolled into WIOA Adult or Youth to provide the employment and training services that person needs to find career success. VR should reserve its employment services for those with significant disabilities or who need intensive, specialized career assistance. In many instances, individuals with disabilities will co-enroll in WIOA Adult or Youth to receive many of their career services. WIOA Adult or Youth can fund individualized assessments to determine eligibility for career interests, skill levels (including literacy, numeracy, and English language proficiency, which could prompt a referral to Adult Education services), aptitudes, and abilities (including skill gaps). This funding stream can help fund connections for VR clients to career fairs and employment opportunities across the state with VR filling in gaps as needed. WIOA Adult or Youth can also provide career and training services aligned to a designated career pathway, provided concurrently or in any combination, that can include:

  • Comprehensive and specialized assessments of the skill levels;
  • Employability skills development (learning skills, communication skills, interviewing skills, punctuality, personal maintenance skills, professional conduct) to prepare for employment or training;
  • Education and/or training services;
  • Financial literacy services;
  • English language acquisition and integrated education and training programs (as supplemental to Adult Education); and
  • Work-based learning activities (such as subsidizing wages or offset employers’ costs).

WIOA Adult or Youth can fund any follow-up services for 12 months once an individual leaves a program. As discussed above, VR follow-up services can occur up to 24 months for individuals with the most significant disabilities. To maximize our investments, case managers should work with co-enrolled individuals to determine what follow-up service is needed for success in that career, such as individualized counseling regarding the work place, how to successfully navigate the new environment, or assistance with any accommodations. Funding and information can be braided between the two funding streams to provide that service and support.

WIOA Adult or Youth can also be braided with VR to provide supportive services individuals with disabilities may need to be successful in their education and training programs. Transportation, in particular, is often one of the most significant barriers for people with disabilities. People with disabilities are three times more likely to depend on public transportation to get to work than those without a disability.[21] Local Boards can use Title I funds in conjunction with VR to provide Hoosiers with transportation vouchers to cover the cost of gas, vehicle maintenance, mileage reimbursement, or passes for public transportation. Additionally, the state will explore creating virtual chatting via a chatbox in various regions as a way to provide services to people who are unable to travel to the office or want to contact someone outside of normal business hours. In addition to providing transportation, creating more virtual and online accessibility to our WorkOnes and staff will alleviate this barrier.

Pre-apprenticeship and pre-employment programs can be especially valuable for individuals with disabilities who have been historically underrepresented in certain industries and apprenticeships. These programs can be paired with Adult Education through an Integrated Education and Training program or a work-based learning experience. Pre-apprenticeship programs expose workers to job sites and work environments and provides income support for workers to address barriers to employment. As discussed above, it also exposes the employer to the individual’s capabilities with less risk than hiring that person on full-time. It allows both parties to learn more about the other. These programs also create formal access points to employers. WIOA Adult or Youth can help fund these types of opportunities for Hoosiers with disabilities, weaving VR support in for accommodations and assistive technology, and help compensate any direct expenses, such as childcare and transportation.

Potential Eligibility: Additional programs and services a Hoosier may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities,Activities outside the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor low-income adults.

Title II – Adult Education (Core Program): Based on an individual’s skill assessment, along with transcript evaluations to determine if a high school diploma or equivalency was earned, an individual with disabilities could be referred to Adult Education for academic services in math, reading, and/or written skills.  Adult Education can also assist with digital literacy and English language acquisition services. Within the Adult Education strategies that are further outlined in that section, our efforts at expanding our Workforce Education Initiative (WEI) will be of benefit to this specific population. Individuals with disabilities who do not possess a diploma/are deficient in basic skills can enroll in basic skill classes at employer sites. By allowing individuals to be employed and earning an income while improving his/her academic skills, individuals with disabilities will be able to meet their current needs while on a path to increased self-sufficiency. Additionally, locating this program at a place of business will help with exposure and awareness from both the employer and potential employee. This initiative combines education, provided through Adult Education, and employment at a site convenient for the individual. It will be critical for Adult Education providers to work with VR offices to ensure all accommodations and assistive supports are provided to the individual to support his/her learning objectives. This will require close collaboration between these two programs to ensure the individual receives all necessary supports. Local Workforce Development Boards could serve as the convener for these programs, as well as others co-enrolled programs, to promote increased integration and coordination in our delivery of services.

Next Level Jobs (State Program): Depending on an individual’s career interests and ambitions, this is a state-funded resource Vocational Rehabilitation providers and WorkOnes can direct individuals with disabilities towards to help mitigate the costs of training. Workforce Ready Grants, for example, can cover the tuition and fees of training and education, while VR can provide accommodations and assistive technologies. VR and WIOA Adult or Youth could braid together to offer ongoing counseling and coaching and assist with wraparound supports. This may not be the best fit for every individual, since it is restricted to certain sectors and may not provide immediate income relief, but it could be an opportunity within an individual’s career pathway to earn a credential that leads to advancement. Through a blending of our programs for support, we want more individuals with disabilities to take advantage of this state program, which can boost their postsecondary attainment and fulfill their career goals.

Another aspect of Next Level Jobs is Employer Training Grants. Under these grants, employers may qualify for reimbursement of up to $5,000 per employee trained and retained for six months. Through our business service teams, we can encourage employers to leverage this funding to help upskill their employees with disabilities. This funding can cover the training and potentially accommodations costs for that employee. Employer Training Grants can serve as a key tool to help businesses recognize the viability of hiring and then retaining individuals with disabilities as employees.

Next Level Jobs has struggled in attracting individuals with disabilities to participate in this program. As Indiana launches its communications strategy in 2020 aimed at encouraging more Hoosiers to pursue higher education and training, we will ensure stories of individuals with disabilities are included as part of marketing materials. We will also continue to work with our community college system to confirm that training and classes are offered in a variety of ways to suit different learning styles. Wagner-Peyser and VR staff will also work to educate employers on how the Employer Training Grant could offset costs of training associated with this population.

Carl D. Perkins (Partner Program): Using Perkins Leadership funds, Indiana will create a Special Populations Recruitment Initiative, which will promote recruitment and retention efforts of this target population in both secondary and postsecondary career-technical education programs. This grant opportunity will support professional development to increase the effectiveness of teachers, faculty, specialized support personnel, and paraprofessionals in relation to the recruitment and instruction of special populations. Indiana intends to explore further opportunities to use Perkins to support educational institutions that serve individuals with disabilities, as we understand that this target population has the same capabilities to achieve in the CTE realm if provided the proper supports.

Ticket to Work (Federal Program): The Social Security Administration has established the Ticket to Work program for people with disabilities who work or desire to work. These programs encourage and support employees who are receiving benefits sot that they can continue to work without the worry of losing health care, supplemental income or housing benefits. Indiana workers with disabilities obtain information from VR or WorkOnes to inform them of a variety of federal and state work incentive programs, and to guide them through the eligibility and application process. VR also provides funding to the Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC), run through Indiana University, to assist Indiana employment providers and Ticket to Work Employment Networks with training, technical assistance and information about Social Security's Ticket to Work program and other available work incentives. There is a robust statewide network of approximately 150 benefits specialists certified through the VR funded Benefits Information Network (BIN) coordinated through CCLC. These BIN specialists provide benefits and work incentives counseling to VR participants who receive public assistance.

The Ticket to Work and Self Sufficiency program provides Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients the choices, opportunities and support they need to enter the workforce and maintain employment with the goal of eventually becoming economically self-sustaining.

Under Ticket to Work, eligible recipients with disabilities who receive monthly cash benefit payments are permitted to participate by signing up with an approved service provider of their choice. This can be an Employment Network (EN) or a state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency. If the agency accepts the ticket assignment, it will coordinate and provide appropriate services to help the beneficiary find and maintain employment. While participating in the Ticket program, beneficiaries can obtain help they need to safely explore work options and find the job that is right for them without immediately losing their benefits. Beneficiaries can use a combination of Social Security work incentives to maximize their income until they begin to earn enough to support themselves. This means, an individual using a Ticket can: go to work without automatically losing benefits, return to benefits if he or she has to stop working, continue to receive health care benefits, and be protected from receiving a medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR) while making expected progress with work or educational goals. This program essentially works as a safety net, allowing recipients a chance to become independent and engaged with the workforce without the fear of losing the benefits they need to continue to sustain a lifestyle while they work towards self-sufficiency.

Title II (Disability Insurance) covers workers who have established eligibility through prior work and Title XVI (Supplemental Security Income)of the Social Security Act has a needs-based income and resource eligibility requirement. The purpose of these programs is to identify people who have disabilities that preclude the ability to work, or for children, impede the ability to fully participate in learning activities. These programs have two desired outcomes: to correctly identify disabled adults and children, and to have adults with potential referred to public or private Vocational Rehabilitation Services, through the Social Security Administration’s “Ticket to Work” program.

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement these practices through strategic use of WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. Where applicable, local Boards or community organizations can coordinate with state agencies to apply for SNAP 50/50 FNS, which will serve as a 50% federal match for any state or philanthropic funding dedicated to SNAP recipients receiving Employment and Training services. These practices are Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, the practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our individuals with disabilities in surmounting their unique circumstances.

Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at IU Bloomington (Institution of Higher Education Program): The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community (IIDC), Indiana’s University Center for Excellence in Disabilities, aims to work with communities to welcome, value, and support the meaningful participation of people of all ages and abilities through research, education, and service. The IIDC achieves this goal through the following activities:

  • Advocacy,
  • Coalition development,
  • Family engagement (supporting families through partnerships among educators and human service providers to strengthen learning, independence, and community connections),
  • Information dissemination,
  • Pre-service education and preparation (supporting the training of professionals to become leaders and prepare future practitioners to implement best practices in the field),
  • Research, education, and policy analysis, and
  • Training and technical assistance (building capacity to support community members and professionals in applying specific skills and best practices).

The IIDC could be a resource for local regions to partner with to help obtain information and research to dispel many of the misconceptions about individuals with disabilities. Regions could also engage with this organization to learn best practices in supporting individuals and families.

The Arc (Philanthropic Program): The Arc of Indiana is an organization founded by parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities focused on building a better and more accepting world for children with disabilities. Its main goals are to:

  • Empower families with information and resources to assist them in their journey of raising a child with a disability to lead a full and meaningful life.
  • Empower people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities to be self-sufficient and independent to the greatest extent possible.
  • Inspire positive change in public policy and public attitudes.
  • Prevent disabilities through education about the dangers of drugs and alcohol while pregnant and advocating for all women to have quality prenatal care.
  • Serve as a spokesperson and advocate for families and their loved ones.

The Arc of Indiana focuses on some very specific programs and services that serve to positively impact Hoosiers with disabilities across the state:

  • The Arc Advocacy Network: This network provides information, referral, and advocacy to guide and assist individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families through a wide variety of issues including:
    • Applying for and navigating government programs;
    • Developing relationships within the community and using resources and supports that may already exist;
    • Helping families and people with disabilities identify their vision of a good life and identify strengths, resources, and supports to achieve that vision, learning about guardianship and alternatives to guardianship, including supported decision-making;
    • Assisting families in navigating their healthcare coverage, increasing knowledge of basic healthcare coverage issues (including coverage of nursing facilities and group homes) and;
    • Becoming a self-advocate.
  • Career Counseling Information & Referral Services: WIOA requires individuals receiving a sub-minimum wage to have the opportunity to prepare for, obtain, maintain, advance in, or regain competitive integrated employment, including supported or customized employment. The reforms also require that individuals be informed of these opportunities. Local Vocational Rehabilitation services personnel and staff from The Arc of Indiana, Self-Advocates of Indiana (SAI) work together with providers who offer sub-minimum wage employment to provide Career Counseling & Information and Referral Services to employed individuals.
  • Erskine Green Training Institute (EGTI): EGTI provides training in hospitality, food services, healthcare, and inventory distribution. The program provides personalized training for students over the course of 10-13 week training sessions where students attend class, master key job skills, and gain valuable work experience through internships, while also providing soft skills for appropriate workplace etiquette, teamwork, taking directions, and effective communication skills.  EGTI’s programming is designed for individuals whose academic, social, communication, and adaptive skills are affected due to a disability.

[1] US Department of Labor. Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

[2] US Department of Labor, 2014. Economic Picture of the Disability Community Project; Key points on Disability and Occupational Projections Tables.

[3] US Department of Labor, 2018. Persons with A Disability: Labor Force Characteristics—2018.

[4] US Department of Labor, 2019. Persons with a Disability, 2018: Current Population Survey (CPS).

[5] This report only captures information about a specific subset of Hoosiers with disabilities and does not reflect comprehensive information about all of those with disabilities.

[6] Indiana University, 2017. Indiana Day and Employment Services Outcome Systems Report.

[7] Ibid.

[8] US Department of Labor, 2019. Persons with a Disability, 2018: Current Population Survey (CPS).

[9] US Department of Labor, 2018. Persons with A Disability: Labor Force Characteristics—2018.

[10] Disability Employment Initiative, February 2016. Shared Customers, Shared Resources, Shared Outcomes: The Integrated Resource Team Model

[11] Disability Employment Initiative, 2018. Georgia – Vocational Rehabilitation Partnership.

[12] US Department of Labor, 2015. Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact.

[13] Kaye et al, 2011. Why Don’t Employers Hire and Retain Workers With Disabilities?

[14] DePaul University, 2007. Exploring the Bottom Line: A Study of the Costs and Benefits of Workers with Disabilities.

[15] US Department of Labor, 2015. Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Indiana’s Commission on Rehabilitation Services, 2019. Annual Report: FFY 2019.

[18] US Chamber of Commerce. Leading Practice on Disability Inclusion.

[19] US Internal Revenue Service. Tax Benefits for Businesses Who Have Employees with Disabilities.

[20] Lead Center, 2018. Building an Accessible Workforce Development System: Recommendations to American Job Centers on Supporting Autistic People and Others with Disabilities to Promote Successful Employment.

[21] National Conference of State Legislators, 2019. Employing People with Disabilities.

This term, adapted from US Code Title 20 defines racial and ethnic populations that have been historically underrepresented with disproportionately low representation among postsecondary credential holders and in certain well-paying occupations and industries. This includes African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. White workers attain postsecondary credentials, Bachelor’s, and graduate degrees in higher numbers, which then leads to increased access to good jobs.[1] Between 1991 and 2016, White workers with higher education credentials gained 10.6 million good jobs. Overall, White workers gained a total of 12.9 million jobs during this time period. Though Black and Latino workers attained higher levels of education, their economic gains have been incongruent with those of White Americans. Black workers gained 1.9 million good jobs for workers with at least a bachelor’s degree, while their overall employment increased by 4 million jobs. Good jobs held by Black workers are increasingly on the four-year, college track, though college-educated white Americans have benefited the most from the increased demand for college-educated workers. Latino workers gained 2.2 million good jobs for workers with at least a bachelor’s degree, even as their employment increased substantially by 13.1 million jobs overall. Black Americans have almost twice the unemployment rate of White Americans, and Latinos have about 1.5 times the unemployment rate.[2] A breakdown of the percentage of good jobs and all jobs held by White, Black, and Latino workers in 2016:

 

White workersBlack workersLatino workers
77% of good jobs10% of good jobs13% of good jobs
69% of all jobs13% of all jobs18% of all jobs

 

The racial equity gap is more apparent when examining wages between the different subgroups. Among workers with good jobs, White workers are consistently paid more than Black and Latino workers at every education level. Even though Black and Latino workers have increased their postsecondary education and their share of good jobs, their earnings gap remains.[3]

Median earnings by race and educational attainment, 2016

 

Over 591,000 Hoosiers report Black as their only race. While every Indiana county includes some black residents, 62% of Indiana’s Black population resides in just two counties, Marion and Lake. Within these two counties, Black Hoosiers make up more than ¼ of the total population.[4] Approximately 390,000 Hoosiers reported their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino in the 2010 Census. Since 2000, Indiana’s Latino population has grown by nearly 82%, an increase of 175,171 people. At least 28 counties saw their Latino population increase by more than 100% in the last ten years.[5] 18,462 Hoosiers reported as Native American (denoted as American Indian and Alaska Native alone on government forms) in 2010. An additional 31,276 Hoosiers report having some Native American ancestry in combination with another race. While the Native American alone population makes up just 0.3% of Indiana’s total population, those who specified their race as American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with another race account for 0.8% of the total population.[6] 102,474 Hoosiers reported Asian as their only race in the 2010 Census. Though Marion and Hamilton counties had the largest numbers of Asians, only Monroe and Tippecanoe counties, which are home to Indiana University and Purdue University, respectively, had more than 5% of the total population as Asian.[7]  Due to their median household income and educational attainment being higher than Indiana’s state averages, Asian Hoosiers were not included in our definition of underrepresented minorities for this section of the Plan.

In 2013, Black household’s median income $28,485, nearly $18,000 less than the state’s median ($46,438). The median household income for Indiana’s Native American households was $34,558, nearly $12,000 less than Indiana’s median income. The median household income for Indiana’s Latino households was $35,122, about $11,000 less than the state’s median. As indicated above, among Indiana’s racial and ethnic minorities, only Asian Hoosiers have a higher median household income at $50,648 than the median income for all households in the state.[8]

Of Indiana’s high school graduates in 2019, at least 29% of graduates from all racial/ethnic groups were from low-income households in 2017. Black and Latino students were also the most likely to come from low-income households.[9]

High school graduates who are low-income disaggregated by race

 

State data show that White Hoosiers have an overall unemployment rate of 3.7%; it is slightly higher in urban areas at 3.8% than rural areas at 3.4%. Black Hoosiers are more likely to be unemployed, as this population has the highest unemployment rate among all subgroups. The overall unemployment rate for Black Hoosiers is at 10.8%. Latino Hoosiers’ unemployment rate is at 4.0%. Unlike White Hoosiers, Latinos have a higher unemployment rate in rural areas at 6.0% than in urban areas at 3.8%. Asian Hoosiers’ unemployment rate is the same as White Hoosiers at 3.7%. Hoosiers who are two or more races have an unemployment rate of 6.9%. Data were unavailable for Native Americans.

Since the Great Recession, the likelihood of having a good job has favored workers with a postsecondary degree or higher. Among all subgroups, those workers with more education have fared better economically than those with less education. Simultaneously, the racial and ethnic gaps in obtaining good jobs persists at every level of education. Among bachelor’s and graduate degree holders, 75% of all jobs held by White Americans are good jobs, compared to 68% of jobs held by Black Americans and 65% of those held by Latinos. For workers with no more than a high school diploma, 39% of jobs held by White Americans are good jobs, compared to 22% of those held by Black Americans and 25% of those held by Latinos.[10] Asian-American workers as a broad group have a higher median hourly wage than White workers at the Bachelor’s degree level and above. There are also very wide differences in attainment among different ethnicities categorized as Asian, which encompasses people with varying ethnic backgrounds from 48 different countries. While this is a positive development for this broad ethnic group, further disaggregation of data is needed to understand the nuances within this subgroup.[11]

Educational attainment by race

[12]

 

Latinos have made sizeable gains in postsecondary certification completion between 1992 and 2016. Comparatively, Black Americans have higher high school completion rates, lower certificate completion rates, and similar Associate’s degree and Bachelor’s degree completion rates, though with a higher overall educational attainment. Latinos, however, tend to earn more than Black workers once they have attained at least some postsecondary education, and Black Americans tend to represent a higher percentage of youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor in school.[13]

These disparities, particularly in educational attainment and earnings, represent a critical workforce challenge that has wide implications for Indiana’s talent development system. The challenge is increasingly important as diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds continue to be a growing segment of Indiana’s workforce. Between 2007 and 2017, the share of Black, Latino, and Asian high school graduates grew by about 1 percentage point each year. Latino students were the fastest growing demographic, growing 5 percentage points in ten years. The percentage of students identifying as Black grew from 9 percent to 11 percent. Indiana produced nearly 10,000 more high school graduates in 2017 than in 2007; virtually all of that growth was among minority students. We must continue to find ways to increase educational and skills attainment of underrepresented minority populations in order to create a more skilled workforce ready to fill in demand jobs with family sustaining wages. 

IN high school graduate trends by race/ethnicity

Broadening both postsecondary educational opportunities and increasing skills-focused training programs will be key pieces to addressing the wage and employment disparities and improving Indiana’s economy. College- and career-counseling, including career awareness and exploration activities, for our historically underrepresented minorities will help close some of the persistent gaps. In order to set our Hoosier students with diverse backgrounds up for success after high school, we must take a two-generational approach by lifting families and communities out of cyclical poverty. An individual’s future achievement is directly related to the length of time s/he lives in poverty. Persistently poor children (persistently poor children are poor at least half the years from birth through age 17) are 13% less likely to complete high school and 43% less likely to complete college than their peers.[14] Persistently poor children are also less likely to be consistently employed as young adults than their counterparts. Lower educational achievement correlates to higher unemployment rates have historically been higher among lower-educated groups.[15] This will require intentionality in career counseling and wraparound supports to help these Hoosiers access and complete any type of higher education opportunity.

Potential Enrollment: Additional programs and services an underrepresented minority Hoosier may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities,Activities outside the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor adults in this target population.

Secondary Education Attainment (State Program): As the data above illustrate, postsecondary education attainment has a direct effect on the wages minority workers earn. As one strategy for combatting discrepancies in both wages and unemployment rates, focusing on postsecondary education attainment is of vital importance for this target population. The gaps in wages and wealth we see for minority adults is echoed in our schools. Only 16% of Black students and 25% of Latino students earn the state’s most rigorous diploma, the Academic Honors Diploma, while 40% of White students earn the diploma.

HS diploma type by select demographics

 

A student’s high school diploma can point to how well that student will fare in their postsecondary pursuits, specifically education. Among General Diploma earners who go straight to college, only 7% experience early success in college, including enrollment in non-remedial courses, overall course completion, and persistence. Achievement gaps based on diploma type widen when disaggregating data for racial and ethnic diversity. When comparing students who earned the same high school diploma, White students have higher rates of early success in college than Black or Latino students, though the relative size of these gaps often is smaller among Academic Honors Diploma earners than among Core 40 or General Diploma earners.[16]

 

Early success in college by diploma type

 

We see similar racial and ethnic disparities in Indiana’s standardized test scores, with Black and Latino students scoring below their White peers. This disproportionality in achievement for Black and Latino students also occurs within the same school. In one school district, third- through eighth-graders achieved an overall pass rate in the district at 66.6%, though Black and Latino students, who comprise the majority of the student population, had pass rates of 18.4% and 18.6%, respectively.[17] Recognizing that these racial and ethnic achievement gaps translate into postsecondary attainment and wages for these students indicates that we must start increasing our expectations for these students’ achievement potential. In Indiana’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan, which is the 2015 reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the long-term academic goals for grades 3 thru 8 and 10, as well as graduation rates, for Black and Latino students, in particular, are set below their Asian and White peers.[18] Though this was based on the historical performance of these subgroups, we must recognize that the difference in expectations for our subgroups will only perpetuate the inequities we see in our workforce. To set all of our students up for success, we need to ensure the level of rigor and achievement is comparable across all student subgroups, especially if we want to see gains in postsecondary education enrollment and completion.

Many colleges require a college entrance exam like the SAT or ACT. The companies that administer the SAT/ACT publish benchmark scores to indicate students’ college and career readiness. Sixty-nine percent of Hoosiers take a college entrance exam. Of those who take the SAT/ACT, about 79% earn a score that indicates they are college and career ready. Similar to grades 3 thru 8, we see achievement gaps breakdown along racial lines.[19] Because these metrics correlate with postsecondary-readiness, ensuring students have strong academic foundations is essential to addressing gaps in attainment and wages.

 

Percentage of high school graduates taking college entrance exam

In addition to closing gaps in proficiency on standardized tests, we can also increase enrollment and success in advanced coursework, such as Advanced Placement tests, the International Baccalaureate program, and dual credit/enrollment courses.

Percentage of high school graduates earning early college credits

[20]

Though prior preparation and opportunity to enroll explains part of the gaps in achievement for these courses between historically underrepresented minorities and White students, the differences in course offerings and whether students who demonstrate readiness for advanced coursework are actually enrolled in the courses are two other critical factors in increasing diversity in these courses. Though inequities in prior achievement can be present a barrier to students, districts can use both state and federal funding to address these inequities earlier on. This correlates with the achievement gaps above. A solid educational foundation to launch students into postsecondary success offers communities an opportunity to generate economic mobility. While WIOA specifically addresses youth starting at age 14, our Workforce Development Boards can also offer a multitude of ways to partner with elementary and middle schools to help provide that foundation.

The state’s new graduation requirements, Graduation Pathways (State Program) will allow students to better align their high school careers with postsecondary opportunities. These Pathways aim at raising rigor across the state for high school students by aligning high school with postsecondary relevancy. As the state implements this new policy, we encourage Workforce Development Boards to partner with schools and districts to facilitate the administration, especially for the project-, service-, or work-based learning requirement. As well, to set students up for success these experiences, Boards can work with schools and districts to expand career awareness and exploration into grades K-8. Creating more opportunities for students to engage, explore, and experience different careers will allow for a deeper understanding of the multitude of postsecondary options. Additionally, both regionally and at the state level, we will monitor outcomes through Graduation Pathways to ensure an equitable representation of students across the Pathways. By reshaping our expectations and instructional practices for our historically underrepresented minority students throughout the K-12 experience, we can set students within this target population up for postsecondary success.

Federal K-12 funds could supplement college- and career-counseling for Black and Latino students, providing mentoring, campus visits, talent tours, and job shadowing experiences. Through partnerships with local Workforce Development Boards, school districts could leverage staff and expertise to assist with career counseling. Wagner-Peyser staff, in particular, could offer workshops or professional development opportunities to help teachers and counselors learns about various postsecondary options. They can also be embedded in schools to share the counseling load or provide labor exchange information. Both Vincennes University and Ivy Tech Community College have college coaches that co-locate in schools, CTE Centers, or districts to help coordinate early college experiences. Both ESSA and Perkins funds could be used by secondary or postsecondary schools to scale these practices. Encouraging more career exploration and awareness through grade-appropriate work-based learning opportunities beginning in elementary school will help raise awareness of careers. The DOE recently released a work-based learning manual that lays out a continuum of experiences for all grades to help increase career exploration, engagement, and experience. It also recommends every high school have a work-based learning coordinator. In local plans, our Workforce Boards can describe how they will partner with schools and districts to increase these opportunities and facilitate engagement with businesses, in particular for students within our target populations. Both schools and local Boards need to ensure that there is an equitable distribution of students throughout the variety of opportunities and experiences.

How we teach and prepare our minority students is critical to ensuring their postsecondary success. Title II: Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, or Other School Leaders of ESEA provides funding for both state and local professional development activities for teachers and administrators. We encourage both our state agency and local school districts to focus a portion of this funding on professional development regarding diversity and inclusion practices in the classroom, as well as instruction that is culturally responsive. As well, these funds can be used to boost diversity among teachers and administrators through intentional recruitment and retention efforts. By reshaping our expectations and instructional practices for our historically underrepresented minority students throughout the K-12 experience, we can set students within this target population up for postsecondary success.

Carl D. Perkins (Partner Program): Over the next two years, Indiana will redesign and implement new programs of study throughout the state. Our redesigned programs of study will include stackable dual credit courses and credentials that directly align with postsecondary programs. Through our Combined Plan, we will merge WIOA’s career pathways with Perkins’ programs of study. Through this alignment between secondary and postsecondary (as well as WIOA and Perkins), we will improve all students’ access to high-quality content throughout the state. Because postsecondary education and credentials are embedded in these programs of study, we will also increase students’ access to postsecondary education while in high school. Similar to an early college model, these programs will offer students the opportunity to earn postsecondary credentials as they earn their high school diploma. By standardizing the content within our programs of study, we can improve our equity and access.

As we will describe further in our Perkins Program Requirements section, we want to ensure there is equitable access and representation of minority students in all career clusters. Fewer racially and ethnically diverse students are represented in STEM pathways, specifically healthcare and IT. Ensuring secondary and postsecondary students access those CTE programs in high-wage occupations, such as those in our advanced industries, is critical to addressing the wage gap. We need to actively recruit and retain students into programs that can give them the technical skills needed for success in well-paid occupations. Often grade requirements may preclude certain subgroups from qualifying for entrance into these programs, which reinforces the need to establish and maintain high expectations for academic achievement in grades 3 through 8. Through Comprehensive Local Needs Assessments, we want our CTE districts and Workforce Boards to examine policies that may be inhibiting equity and identify ways to increase minority students’ access to programs leading to middle- and high-wage jobs.

Our CTE districts can use Perkins and their state CTE tuition support to partner with either schools or community colleges to build co-requisite models for academics and technical classes. Often used in higher education, the co-requisite model melts remediation with introductory courses and provides students with the opportunity to earn credit towards their degree concurrently with remedial support, rather than completing a remedial course prior to enrolling in the credit-bearing course. Leveraging Perkins as a funding source, Workforce Development Boards can help CTE districts build similar models in the secondary CTE space, integrating academic remediation concurrent with the technical course.

Access alone, though, is not sufficient to close the achievement and wage gaps for this target population. We need students to earn credentials, complete programs of study, and enroll in postsecondary education programs. A portion of our Perkins Leadership dollars will go towards supporting recruiting special populations into a wide-range of CTE courses. Additionally, we will also focus our funding towards similar professional development for CTE instructors and administrators as above – with diversity and inclusion practices and culturally responsive instruction – to support our special populations in CTE at both the secondary and postsecondary levels. Part of Perkins includes Civil Rights monitoring. The Office of CTE will provide technical assistance to help our CTE districts proactively comply with all Civil Rights regulations, rather than waiting for a monitoring visit.

In the postsecondary space with adult learners, similar strategies – professional development and examining equity in access – can also be replicated through Indiana’s Perkins Leadership dollars. Perkins can also be used to further other equitable strategies for historically underrepresented minorities. Through our Perkins Reserve funds, we plan to administer grants to community colleges that create and implement local strategies to close performance gaps. Because Ivy Tech Community College has pioneered the use of the co-requisite model in math, our community college system could build a similar model with CTE courses.[21] Contingent upon programmatic academic needs, postsecondary Perkins could integrate academics further into technical courses by concurrently offering any remedial support with technical classes. This could help remove a barrier some of our historically underrepresented minorities who seek postsecondary education face.

As well, we will require our postsecondary Perkins recipients to focus on more academic integration, including science, into our CTE programs of study, which meets the goal of Perkins V and provides students with higher levels of academic proficiency, which is becoming increasingly critical in today’s evolving economy. Perkins can also fund a continuum of work-based learning opportunities for minority students in the postsecondary space, from job shadowing to internships. We will also focus Perkins funding towards greater career awareness and guidance. This type of guidance should be targeted towards pursuing lifelong learning for our historically underrepresented minorities, encouraging them to leverage stackable credentials towards higher degrees. Though higher education is not an equalizer when it comes to wages for minorities, it does boost economic opportunities and mobility prospects. This type of counseling could include financial aid opportunities to help offset costs, including both federal and state programs.

Postsecondary Education Attainment: Trends in college going rates among student demographic groups show that while some gaps are closing in Indiana, others have widened over the past five years. Over the past year, the gap in college going rates between Black and White students stayed the same, but both groups went down 1 percentage point. The gap in college going rates between Hispanic and White students did shrink. Over the last five years, only Asian students and Latino students experienced increases in college-going rates.[22]

College-going rate by student demographics

 

Eighty-seven percent of Hoosier Native American men have a high school diploma or higher, compared to 79% of Native American women.[23]

IN's adult educational attainment, 2011

 

Because cost is often a prohibitive factor to college enrollment and attendance, schools and Boards must encourage all students to file the FAFSA in their senior year. Federal financial aid is applicable at any accredited institution of higher education and can help ease some of the financial burdens students and families face. Coupled with federal financial aid, Indiana offers several state programs:

  • 21st Century Scholars program provides up to four years of undergraduate tuition to income-eligible students at participating colleges or universities in Indiana, as well as step-by-step guidance and support to make sure they succeed in college and receive support to finish their degree. As the program requires student enrollment in middle school, it is vital to provide college- and career-coaching to our underrepresented minorities earlier in their academic careers. Schools can partner with institutions, Workforce Boards, and community organizations, in addition to leveraging Title IV ESSA funds to provide additional counseling in middle school.
  • Frank O’Bannon is designed to provide access for Hoosier students to attend eligible public, private, and proprietary postsecondary institutions. Eligibility for the grant is based on financial need as determined by the FAFSA. The grant may be used toward tuition and regularly assessed fees. Students in their first award year will receive the one-time award amount based on both the institution type and expected family contribution. Students receive additional aid for hitting key success markers, such as earning an Academic Honors Degree or an Associate’s Degree. In addition to college- and career-counseling, we must also increase the diversity of students earning our Honors Diploma.
  • Adult Student Grant offers assistance to individuals starting or completing an Associate's degree, Bachelor's degree, or certificates by providing a $1,000 grant per semester. It is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of working adults. This financial aid can complement WIOA Core Programs to help boost postsecondary attainment with this target population.
  • Workforce Ready Grant removes financial barriers that may prevent Hoosiers from getting the training they need for a job in one of Indiana’s five high-demand fields. The grant pays for all tuition and regularly assessed fees for qualifying high-value certificates. The grant is available for up to two years. As minorities often have lower postsecondary attainment and wages, increasing marketing to, enrollment in, and persistence towards completion of this target population could help provide access to Indiana’s higher-wage careers. As individuals are referred to this program, our community colleges and training providers must doggedly follow-up with them to ensure enrollment. Once enrolled, either WIOA Core Programs or community college services can assist with some of the wraparound supports, such as transportation, childcare, and career counseling.
  • Earline S. Rogers Student Teaching Stipend for Minorities is available for minority students (defined as black and Latino individuals) who will participate in student teaching or a school administration internship as a part of their degree requirements during the semester in which they receive it. Students must agree in writing to apply for teaching positions in Indiana and, if hired, teach in Indiana for at least three years.
  • William A. Crawford Minority Teacher Scholarshipis available to minority students (defined as black and Latino individuals) who intend to pursue, or are currently pursuing, a course of study that would enable them to teach in an accredited school in Indiana. Students must agree in writing to apply for teaching positions in Indiana and, if hired, teach in Indiana for at least three years.

While the latter two scholarships provide assistance to historically underrepresented minorities to access higher education, they are also significant to increasing Indiana’s teacher pipeline. Research suggests that student outcomes, such as test scores, attendance, and suspension, rates are positively affected by a demographic match between teachers and students. This could be due to the ability of same-race role models to inspire minority students to achieve, as well as its effect on teacher expectations.[24] Through these two scholarships, we can increase our current minority college attendance and completion, as well as positively impact future minority college attendance and completion. Greater minority representation in the teaching force helps with both current and future economic mobility of this target population.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education recently launched a pilot program, Padres Estrellas (State Program), focused on empowering Hoosier Hispanic and Latino communities to provide college and career support to students and families across the state. Funded by Indiana’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), five parents work with schools, neighborhoods and community partners on helping students and families enroll in the 21st Century Scholars program and in the Next Level Jobs Workforce Ready Grant. The goal is on increasing Latino student access to and attainment of higher education credentials. The purpose of Padres Estrellas is to build upon the Commission for Higher Education’s (CHE) recent successes in outreach to Latino families by exploring and engaging parents as partners. CHE will harness the resources of Latino-serving community organizations in five regions across the state to recruit, train, and retain five Padres Estrellas who will be instrumental in developing and sustaining relationships with Latino families in their respective communities to boost educational success and equity across the state. In addition to partnering with community organizations, CHE will also encourage their Padres Estrellas to connect with regional Workforce Development Boards to serve as a supplemental resource or co-located partner for Latino Hoosiers.

Community partners throughout Indiana, such as the Indiana Black Expo, 100 Black Men, Indiana Latino Institute, La Plaza, and the Sociedad Amigos de Colombia De Indiana (Community Programs), also offer financial aid, mentoring, and college and career counseling to historically underrepresented minorities hoping to pursue higher education. Institutions may also offer financial aid specifically to minority students, such as Butler University’s Black Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship (Institution of Higher Education Program). As we scale our career counseling to youth and adults comprising this target population, our regional Workforce Development Boards can help schools and districts curate any and all opportunities – local, state, or even national – for financial aid assistance through Wagner-Peyser funds.

Title I – Adult, Dislocated Worker, or Youth (Core Program): For those individuals that meet the income, age, and/or employment eligibility requirements for our WIOA Core Programs, these programs can provide employment and career services at local WorkOnes. These funds can braid with other forms of financial support as a supplement to help with any education and training costs, work-based learning, transportation, financial support, and other needed services. In addition to providing wraparound supports, WIOA Adult and Dislocated Worker can also fund individualized assessments to determine eligibility for career interests, skill levels (including literacy, numeracy, and English language proficiency), aptitudes, and abilities (including skills gaps). WorkOne staff may assist with employability skills development (learning skills, communication skills, interviewing skills, punctuality, personal maintenance skills, and professional conduct) to prepare for employment or training. Through the state’s data management system, we can also track program access and outcomes-focused data by race and ethnicity, disaggregated by major subgroup. For those historically underrepresented minorities looking to upskill, our WorkOnes can help them navigate the postsecondary education system – including filing the FAFSA and applying for state financial aid.

Pre-apprenticeship and pre-employment programs can be especially valuable for people of color who have been historically underrepresented in certain industries and apprenticeships. These programs can be paired with Adult Education to help workers acquire a basic level of academic- and industry-relevant skills. Effective pre-apprenticeship programs expose workers to job sites and work environments, as well as provide income support for workers to address barriers to employment. Pre-employment and pre-apprenticeship programs also create formal access points to employers. Either apprenticeship program or WIOA Adult and Dislocated can help with direct expenses from this program, such as childcare and transportation.

WIOA Youth, like WIOA Adult, can help with wraparound supports, as well as serve as a gap filler for educational training costs. Some services that can be prioritized for a co-enrolled individual include:

  1. Paid and unpaid work experiences;
  2. Leadership development opportunities;
  3. Supportive services;
  4. Mentoring;
  5. Follow-up services; and
  6. Comprehensive guidance and counseling.

Title II – Adult Education (Core Program): Based on the individual’s skills assessment or attainment of a high school diploma, a minority Hoosier could be automatically referred to Adult Education for assistance earning a high school equivalency, technical training through Integrated Education and Training, or other educational services (e.g., literacy and academic remediation and English language acquisition activities). These services should be provided in coordination with those outlined above in WIOA Adult or Youth to facilitate enrollment. They could also be offered concurrently with higher education programs at our community colleges, expediting the time investment an individual would need to make. Counseling regarding the use of Ability to Benefit,which allows individuals without a secondary diploma to access federal financial aid, could help reduce postsecondary education costs for AE students that are also historically underrepresented minorities. AtB allows students who are concurrently enrolled in connected AE and eligible postsecondary programs, but do not have a high school diploma or equivalent, to be Pell eligible.

Title III – Wagner-Peyser (Core Program): For minority Hoosiers, this program can serve as the resource to fund career counseling (either in person or virtually), labor exchange services, and assistance for job searches and placement. Local Boards could pioneer virtual chatting through a chatbox feature with a career coach as a way to increase accessibility to WorkOnes. Career counseling and development of individual employment plans (employment goals, achievement objectives, appropriate services, and eligible training providers) can be prioritized to assist these individuals in determining their career aspiration. Wagner-Peyser staff can also assist with business services to employers, employer associations, or other such organizations on diverse employment-related attraction and retention practices in the area.Additionally, as these individuals are state merit staff, Indiana will prioritize professional development in cultural competency and responsivity to assist with design-thinking practices. For an individual receiving SNAP E&T or TANF, those funds can help supplement the career navigation services under Wagner-Peyser, in addition to tuition and fees.

Title IV – Vocational Rehabilitation (Core Program): If an individual has a physical or mental disability that constitutes or results in a substantial barrier to employment, s/he may qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. Through a common intake process, the state will understand the multifaceted needs of an individual and where various programs can serve as scaffolding to our Employment and Training services through WIOA Adult and state programs, like Next Level Jobs. Contingent upon the individual’s needs and barriers, the WorkOne can offer the programming and funding for that person’s employment service, with VR serving as an supplementary support. Co-enrollment into VR could provide the individual with any accommodations or auxiliary supports needed for training, rather than relying on VR to be the sole source of support and funding. These supports can include:

  • Personal and vocational adjustment services,
  • Assistive technologies,
  • Rehabilitation technology,
  • Adaptive aids and devices and any associated training, and
  • Interpreter or reader services.

Diverse Hiring Practices (Employer Initiatives): Indiana’s employers are seeking diversity in their organizations and companies. Diversity provides employers with access to a greater range of talent and insight into the needs and motivations of a larger swath of their client or customer base, rather than just a small part of it. It also makes companies more effective, successful, and profitable.[25]To strengthen their own workforces and talent pipelines, employers can and should be critical partners in addressing racial and ethnic disparities. One strategy employers could use to increase diversity is to redefine job criteria to more accurately match the skills and requirements needed for the job. This could alleviate historically underrepresented candidates from being eliminated because they do not have the requisite degree. Employers can also invest in incumbent worker programs to help offset skill gaps among underrepresented minorities through upskilling/reskilling opportunities.[26] At the state level, we will work to recognize and promote employers’ and industry’s efforts to increase diversity in their workforce. Through the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, we can facilitate partnerships between employers and community organizations that advocate or provide services for Hoosier minorities, especially in those fields where they have been historically underrepresented.  

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement these practices through strategic use of WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. Where applicable, local Boards or community organizations can coordinate with state agencies to apply for SNAP 50/50 FNS, which will serve as a 50% federal match for any state or philanthropic funding dedicated to SNAP recipients receiving Employment and Training services. These practices are Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, the practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our historically underrepresented minorities in surmounting their unique circumstances.  

Indiana Black Expo (Community Program): Indiana Black Expo (IBE) hosts an annual business conference, focused on providing minority businesses with the tools needed to build capacity and on providing corporate executives and professionals with development opportunities beneficial for climbing the corporate ladder. Workshops and networking opportunities are offered in this multi-day activity. Attendees have the opportunity to hear directly from experts on sustaining and expanding their businesses and networking with key decision makers at the Mayor’s Breakfast and Governor’s Reception. In addition, IBE’s Employment Opportunity Fair is an assembly of nearly one hundred businesses in a diverse range of industries in search of qualified employees. The event attracts thousands of attendees from around Indiana who are unemployed, under-employed, or simply looking for a change in the workplace. Many of the participating employers offer on-the-spot connects between the job market and those trying to navigate it. Spanning over three decades, it is now one of the largest job fairs in Indiana.

Salesforce (Employer Initiative): Salesforce, including its network in Indiana, stands on its mission to build a workplace that reflects society. Equality is a listed core value at Salesforce. It recognizes that empowering equality builds deeper connections with their customers and drives better company results.  It strives to create a workplace that reflects the diverse communities it serves and to create an environment where everyone feels empowered to bring their full, authentic selves to work. 43.9% of the Salesforce U.S workforce is currently made up of Underrepresented Groups (e.g., Women, Black, Latino, Indigenous, Multiracial, LGBTQ, People with Disabilities, and Veterans), with an established goal to bring that to 50% by 2023.

Indiana Minority Health Coalition, Inc. (Community Program): The Indiana Minority Health Coalition (MHC) works through education, advocacy, and quality healthcare services to help racial and ethnic minorities. It conducts research and training, develops policy, and create and maintains a broad-based network of affiliate agencies. Through the IMHC, numerous programs and projects have been launched and maintained to address specific health issues in throughout the state. The IMHC collaborates with academic institutions and partners to conduct research to inform health practitioners, policy makers, and other community leaders.  It also provides skills development services to help organizations provide high-quality, cultural and linguistically appropriate services. The IMHC provides high school and college students with internships that expose them to a variety of health careers, hoping to improve the number of minority students entering health professions.

[1] Georgetown University defines middle-wage jobs as those that “pay $32,000 to $53,000 per year for a full-time, full-year worker” (Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2015).

[2] Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2019. The Unequal Race for Good Jobs: How Whites Made Outsized Gains in Education and Good Jobs Compared to Blacks and Latinos.

[3] Ibid.

[4] INContext, 2013. Exploring Hoosier Minority Groups: Indiana's Black Population.

[5] INContext, 2013. Exploring Hoosier Minority Groups: Indiana's Hispanic Population.

[6] INContext, 2013. Exploring Hoosier Minority Groups: Indiana's Native American Population.

[7] INContext, 2013. Exploring Hoosier Minority Groups: Indiana's Asian Population.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 2019. College Equity Report 2019.

[10] Ibid.

[11] National Skills Coalition, 2019. The Roadmap for Racial Equity: An imperative for workforce development advocates.

[12] Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2011. The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings.

[13] Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2017. Latino Education and Economic Progress: Running Faster but Still Behind.

[14] Urban Institute, 2015. Child Poverty and Adult Success.

[15] National Center for Education Statistics, 2019. Employment and Unemployment Rates by Educational Attainment.

[16] Ibid.

[17]Indiana Department of Education Compass.

[18] Indiana Department of Education, 2019. Amendment to Indiana’s Consolidated State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ivy Tech Community College modeled this program after the Accelerated Learning Program, which originated at the Community College of Baltimore County, and has shown consistent student success with nearly double the pass rates.

[22] Ibid.

[23] INContext, 2013. Exploring Hoosier Minority Groups: Indiana's Native American Population.

[24]  The Brookings Institution, 2017. The Importance of a Diverse Teaching Force.

[25] McKinsey & Company, 2015. Why Diversity Matters.

[26] McKinsey & Company, 2019. The Future of Work in Black America.

 

Indiana’s cities are the hubs of regional economies, impacting the surrounding suburban and rural people and communities. They offer a wide range of economic, educational, and social opportunities, but their primary resource is human capital. Urban areas have dense populations, creating a swell of available talent for businesses and economic development.[1] Two of Indiana’s three high-poverty counties, Delaware and Monroe, are considered urban, while the third, Grant County, contains a mix of urban and rural land. The highest rates of poverty in the state occur within Indiana’s cities. The poverty rate in the 10 highest-poverty census tracts exceeds 66% of the population.[2] There is a larger proportion of high-poverty tracts in Indiana’s metropolitan areas, especially in the inner cities, but there are many high-poverty tracts in nonmetropolitan locations as well.[3]

County and census tract individual rates in IN, 2016ff

 

A tract has persistently high poverty when at least 20% of the population has lived in poverty over approximately three decades. Indiana's persistently poor census tracts are primarily located in or near cities, although not all cities in Indiana have persistently poor neighborhoods. In 1990, 21 of Indiana’s census tracts had been highly poor since 1970, but by 2016, the number of persistently highly poor census tracts had increased to 170.[4] 

Census tracts with persistently high individual poverty rates in IN, 2016

 

There are numerous investments in both the human capital and physical capacity of urban communities from federal funding to philanthropic dollars. Both public and private initiatives tend to focus on public housing, transportation, and education in cities, improving community resources and job opportunities for local residents. A pervasive issue within our urban centers is that a number of Hoosiers are stuck in neighborhoods that are largely isolated from the economic and social benefits that cities create.[5] Communities with low socioeconomic demographic or predominately minority populations often fail to benefit from urban resources. Low-literacy rates and educational attainment have created pockets of intergenerational poverty in Indiana’s cities. Additionally, in these neighborhoods, jobs tend to focus on low-skills needed and provide low-wages. The symbiosis of educational attainment and job opportunity perpetuates the cycles of poverty in which some communities can become trapped.

In Indiana’s cities, public and private investments to create a robust talent development system are starting to find the intersection between workforce and community development. Addressing concentrated poverty (an area where the poverty rate is 30% or higher) requires this type of two-prong approach due to the entanglement of social services with economic stability and opportunities. When looking at high child poverty in Indiana, three areas of the state have the greatest density:

  • Along the shore of Lake Michigan
  • Northeast Indianapolis
  • Along a line southwest of Indianapolis
County and census tract child poverty rates in IN, 2016

While it may be easier to target poor urban areas from a funding perspective and expect greater levels of programmatic impact due to the dense population, concentrated poverty exacerbates the obstacles of being poor, such as higher crime rates, underperforming schools, poor health outcomes, and substandard housing options. These effects are particularly hard on children, who face increased levels of stress that can lead to emotional and behavioral problems.[6] Increasing the coordination between community and workforce development efforts, as well as the various funding steams, will start to break the cycles of poverty by integrating education and training more intentionally with social services.

Collaboration between the workforce development and public housing systems is essential because success in employment and housing stability are closely linked and often dependent on one another. Neither system, working on its own, has the resources, capacity, or expertise to support individuals in achieving both of those outcomes. As a result, these systems must collaborate to help ensure that appropriate employment and housing services and supports exist at scale in communities and that the individuals served by these systems can access the appropriate resources. Over the next four years, we hope to amend our Combined Plan to include related programs under the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (which include the Community Development Block Grant program, Continuum of Care, Family Self-Sufficiency program, Jobs Plus program, and the Community Services Block Grant employment and training activities). The amendment will reflect effective combined planning processes between the public workforce system and homeless services system.

As we explore ways to integrate workforce development programs under the IHCDA, potential strategies we will consider are:

  • Ensuring the identification, offering, and implementation of a robust menu of employment and support services for adult and youth jobseekers living in public housing;
  • Helping identify and implement effective referral processes between the workforce and public housing services systems and partners;
  • Coordinating the workforce programs and support service resources offered through IHCDA with our WorkOnes; and
  • Determining the unmet needs of participants served and how WIOA and IHCDA services and funds could be braided together.

One program we will examine leveraging in our urban areas is the Family Self-Sufficiency Program. Indiana received a total of $1.2 million in 2018 from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development for public housing authorities to continue helping residents participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program and/or reside in public housing to increase their earned income and reduce their dependency on public assistance and rental subsidies.[7] The FSS program encourages strategies that link housing assistance with a broad spectrum of services that will enable participating families to find jobs, increase earned income, reduce or eliminate the need for rental and/or welfare assistance, and make progress toward achieving economic independence and housing self-sufficiency.[8] As the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet explores strategies to combine those workforce development programs administered by IHCDA into the overall talent development system, we intend on using our convening power through our various state agencies to develop and disseminate best practices on helping urban Hoosiers with barriers to employment enter the workforce. As this will include strategies that take into consideration education, transportation, childcare, child support, domestic violence, criminal justice history, and other factors, we will work across agencies to identify those regions or cities with best practices that can be scaled.

At the local level, Indiana will further the co-location of workforce, social services, and housing programs. Co-locating workforce and homeless services and providers can create a deeper level of collaboration that requires sharing space and its associated resources at the local level. Allowing homeless staff to co-locate physically in the WorkOne or portably in high trafficked locations (e.g., schools, community centers, and libraries) could decrease travel time for those who are homeless and increase their access to a greater amount of opportunities. In Indiana communities with limited public transportation options, co-locating services at a one-stop service center will help alleviate a primary barrier for this target population. Co-location also facilitates real-time information sharing among staff, allowing staff to better align the activities of their respective systems, leverage existing resources, and increase opportunities for collective innovation that may lead to better service delivery approaches. To help increase the co-location and integration of housing and workforce services at the local level, our local Workforce Development Boards may include those entities representing or serving jobseekers facing housing instability into their leadership bodies.

Though many of our low-income Hoosiers may reside in these communities, this section is addressing the main needs of urban populations: transportation, housing, and employment. These barriers arise from persisting challenges related to affordable housing, inadequate infrastructure, income inequality, and cyclical poverty. Being raised in high poverty communities undercuts children’s long-term outcome, with living conditions creating poor health, low educational outcomes, and limited employment opportunities. Upward mobility is especially low in Indiana’s cities, such as Indianapolis. In a ranking of intergenerational mobility, child income ranked against parent income rank, of the 50 Largest Commuting Zones in the US, Indianapolis ranked 47, indicating that children born in this urban area have low chances of progressing economically.[9] By integrating wraparound services that impact employment opportunities in our urban communities, we can create career opportunities that can increase Hoosiers’ educational attainment and economic mobility.

Though many other target populations may overlap with this particular one, this section is focused on the way in which our Core, Partner, and state programs and services can be differentiated to directly support and address distinctive challenges within urban communities. Additional services identified in other sections may be available to urban individuals contingent on eligibility, but the barriers unique to neighborhoods with concentrated poverty. Through this systemic approach, we want to establish basic supports to provide urban Hoosiers’ with greater education and training, employment services, and wraparound supports. Though the aim of this section is to provide a comprehensive view of the workforce and social services system in urban Indiana, it does not encompass all local programs. Our urban regions have the advantage of multiple partners and programs providing services to Hoosiers to help with economic and social mobility. The multitude of partners in urban areas also create complex ecosystems that require diligence to ensure coordination of services. Our Workforce Development Boards can enhance the foundational level of services outlined in the Plan through local programs and implementation. The local Boards will explain how they can include local programs and workforce development ecosystems to achieve an integrated delivery of workforce and social supports and maximize federal, state, and local investments in our talent development system

Co-Enrolled Programs: Hoosiers who live in urban areas will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities, Activities outside the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor those individuals.

Title I-Adult (Core Program): Our urban communities can use WIOA Adult to refresh the technical and employability skills of Hoosiers to future-proof current jobs. Title I can help shift Hoosier’s skillsets to align more directly with the middle-wage jobs in the area. All trainings should be aligned to Indiana’s career pathways, comprised of multiple entry points and stackable credentials leading to career advancement and economic mobility. Pairing WIOA Adult with federal and state financial aid opportunities accessed through the FAFSA, local Workforce Development Boards can simultaneously increase the educational attainment and decrease the skills gap for urban communities. Braiding this funding with other forms of financial aid can help increase postsecondary educational attainment for our urban Hoosiers. Because educational attainment and economic outcomes are so closely linked, access to educational opportunities can be the catalyst for economic mobility for many residents of urban communities, providing access to employment that will lead to economic mobility for themselves and future generations. In addition to the career and employment services that can be offered through WIOA Adult, this funding stream can help scale work-based learning opportunities for urban Hoosiers, so they can earn and learn as they upskill or reskill. Title I can help subsidize on-the-job training expenses or wages.

Additionally, WIOA Adult could also assist urban Hoosiers looking for economic mobility with

  1. Education and training that stacks towards a postsecondary credential or certification;
  2. Skills that directly tie to employers or industries that provide well-paying jobs in key sectors; and
  3. A range of additional supports and services to help workers deal with problems that arise, either during the training period or beyond.

In some cases, there may be transportation or geographic barriers between urban neighborhoods and our WorkOnes, training providers, and institutions of higher education, creating a physical barrier preventing Hoosiers from accessing these resources. WorkOnes can address some of these barriers by locating offices, mobile services, and training programs within target communities, as well as offering office hours and partnering with training programs that provide opportunities outside of the regular 9-to-5 work hours and having information in languages other than English. Through co-location efforts, WorkOnes can partner with schools, community organizations, or community centers to offer mobile or temporary services within specific neighborhoods and bring those services to individuals, rather than waiting on individuals to come into an office. Urban communities could leverage this funding stream to increase trainings within businesses through work-based learning or an eligible provider, as opposed to an offsite location. Embedding training within local community centers or employers could help address the obstacle of transportation in these isolated communities.

Similar to rural areas, local Boards can use Title I to provide Hoosiers with transportation vouchers to cover the cost of gas or vehicle maintenance. Subsidizing transportation costs through supportive service payments could also cover mileage reimbursement. WorkOnes can use WIOA Adult to help provide transportation access in the form of public transportation vouchers or assistance. It can fund providing transportation to and from education or training programs. For those looking to access the WorkOne outside of business hours or without needing transportation, urban WorkOnes could pilot the use of a chatbox feature that connects individuals to resources and career coaches virtually. In addition to providing transportation, creating more virtual and online accessibility to our WorkOnes and staff will alleviate this barrier.

To help reduce the amount of travel needed to navigate our workforce development and social services systems, various partners could co-locate in create a true one-stop for Hoosiers. Co-location could include:

  • Formal co-location – physically locating Core and Partner Programs at one office.
  • Using itinerant staff – embedding staff from various programs in different offices (e.g., SNAP staffer is embedded at the WorkOne and vice versa).
  • Mobile locations – Core and Partner Program staff offer services in various hubs of community activity, such as libraries, schools, partnering non-profits, college campuses, and community centers.
  • Referral relationships – using a “warm hand-off” process, to ensure direct contact with partners or following up to ensure services had been received. Referrals between different programs must be collaborative and coordinated. WorkOnes, community partners, schools, and institutions of higher education should liaise referrals for constituents person-to-person, rather than merely program-to-program. Both follow-through and follow-up are necessary to ensure quality for the constituent.

In some urban areas, the public transportation system is trailblazing innovative approaches to meeting the needs of the community. The Gary Public Transportation Corp, for example, has public buses routed to schools and has created a partnership with nearby Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University for bus routes. Though these are positive developments for the Gary community, transportation challenges continue to create a barrier for residents. Timing, street lighting, and safety all remain concerns. Some employers, like Methodist Hospital, have invested in paving roads and street lighting because of the economic implications for attracting and retaining both its workforce and clientele. Local Boards can lead partnerships between employers, community foundations and organizations, local chambers of commerce, and WorkOnes to help improve transportation in urban areas to provide for greater accessibility. Though WIOA dollars help address the short-term transportation needs of individuals, longer-term solutions can be spearheaded and coordinated through our local Boards.

For many urban residents, access to consistent childcare services can be a barrier that hampers employment opportunities. The Child Care and Development Fund (Federal Program) and On My Way Pre-K (State Program) can provide vouchers to help offset these costs. Title I could also offer stipends to cover childcare costs, while Hoosiers participate in workforce trainings or education programs. The difficulty with childcare in urban areas is converse to that in rural areas – there are many options for childcare and PreK services, though with greater variance in quality. All three funding streams should go towards those providers at a level 3 or 4 on the Paths to Quality by either helping to fund an increase in capacity or in quality. Local Boards can also determine strategies to include premium payments for evening and weekend childcare or scaling childcare options at WorkOnes, community colleges, libraries, and employers to help parents with multiple shifts or doing training after work hours.

Title III-Wagner-Peyser (Core Program): Business services in WorkOnes and Local Economic Development Organizations are essential to the long-term success of urban populations. Increasing the communication and partnerships between local businesses to better understand current business’ needs can assist with identifying job openings, emerging industries and companies, and any skills gaps that need to be addressed in secondary, postsecondary, or adult education programs. Though either WIOA Adult or Wagner-Peyser, business service teams could bring together the workers, employers, training providers, and sources of supports needed to make this process work. Business service staff might help overcome employer resistance to hiring workers by providing more information on positive worker skills and attributes and by carefully screening the applicants whom they refer to these employers.

Additionally, given the number and variety of employers in dense urban areas, Workforce Development Boards might preference delving into deep relationships with those offering middle-wage positions, on-the-job training options, or additional wraparound supports. Urban areas could err on the side of fewer, but deeper, relationships with employers, rather than more superficial relationships with a greater breadth of businesses. We should prioritize the quality of the relationship and services provided to the businesses before pursuing quantity. Because urban areas have the latter in abundance, ensuring the former is met will be a critical aspect of their business services. Moreover, local Boards could use Wagner-Peyser to help inform Hoosiers about new and emerging opportunities in certain sectors, mindful of the negative histories and perspectives some neighborhoods might have towards various industries. In some of our urban neighborhoods, there may be some acrimony towards industries that once had a presence in the community but no longer do. Through career coaching, WorkOne staff can help discuss current and potential opportunities in these sectors that might offer strong long-term careers and wages. Similar to our other target populations, these programs can serve as the resource to fund career counseling (either in person or virtually), labor exchange services, and assistance for job searches and placement.

Carl D. Perkins (Partner Program): Through the CTE Redesign efforts under Perkins, we intend to improve the postsecondary attainment of urban students while they are in high school, providing them with greater opportunities for future economic mobility and personal fulfillment. Our K-12 and postsecondary institutions are designing structured academic and career pathways for students that explicitly lead and/or transfer to careers providing family-supporting wages. To do this we must ensure that schools in the most economically disadvantaged communities across the state have access to the same quality equipment and course offerings as those of their peers. By ensuring equity in the academic space for all, we seek to give all Hoosier students, regardless of neighborhood, a chance to achieve in the CTE setting, leading to careers in some of the most in demand careers in the state. Perkins can supplement state tuition support for CTE to help provide state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, as well as instructional strategies that support various learning styles and needs. The redesigned programs of study (or career pathways under WIOA) will facilitate the extension of postsecondary pathways into high schools through intensive collaboration between community colleges with K–12 systems. Boo

Perkins can support advising (including both academic and career planning) in high schools and colleges should provide prospective and current students with information regarding various opportunities for employment in specific fields, projected earnings (at entry level and beyond), and the levels of educational attainment associated with high employment and high wages. Perkins can help support this activity and professional growth in both secondary and postsecondary, using local Wagner-Peyser staff to help fill any gaps. Perkins can also supplement the expansion of the work-based learning continuum to include greater career awareness and exploration, career guidance, and employability development in middle and high schools and at the postsecondary level. For adults or at-risk youth, these programs can also braid in funds through WIOA Title I to assist with wages or other funding supports. Indiana’s Local Career Coaching Grants may be utilized in tandem with Perkins and other funding sources (such as Title IV under the Every Student Succeeds Act) as a means to expand this type of advising to more students.

Potential Eligibility: Additional services or co-enrollment rural Hoosiers may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program ActivitiesandIndividual Services.

Apprenticeships (State and Federal Programs): Apprenticeships, both traditional registered apprenticeships through the US Department of Labor and non-traditional developed through Indiana’s Office of Work Based Learning and Apprenticeship, can provide consistent wages, debt-free education and higher wages to urban Hoosiers. Workers who complete an apprenticeship earn an average starting salary of $50,000 and earn about $300,000 more than comparable workers over their lifetimes. Employers also benefit from having the ability to build a pipeline of skilled workers.[10] Scaling access to state and federal apprenticeship programs will provide a way for urban students to earn postsecondary credentials and an income simultaneously. Pre- and/or youth- apprenticeship programs can aim to define clear career paths, help students (either in K-12 or adults) choose the best track for them, and prepare them to secure and succeed in full-time employment.

Title IV – Vocational Rehabilitation (Core Program): If an individual living in an urban locale has a physical or mental disability that constitutes or results in a substantial barrier to employment, s/he may qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. Through a common intake process, the state will understand the multifaceted needs of an individual and where various programs can serve as scaffolding to our Employment and Training services through WIOA Adult and state programs, like Next Level Jobs. Contingent upon the individual’s needs and barriers, the WorkOne can offer the programming and funding for that person’s employment service, with VR serving as an supplementary support. Co-enrollment into VR could provide the individual with any accommodations or auxiliary supports needed for training, rather than relying on VR to be the sole source of support and funding. These supports can include:

  • Personal and vocational adjustment services,
  • Assistive technologies,
  • Rehabilitation technology,
  • Adaptive aids and devices and any associated training, and
  • Interpreter or reader services.
     

City Profiles:Indiana has 12 different metropolitan areas located across the state. Each of these metropolitan areas has a unique history and a distinctive set of needs for their economic future. Despite their differences, Hoosier cities do share some commonalities. Below we examine the profiles of four urban areas in various parts of the state, each serving as the economic engine in their region of Indiana, to highlight how Hoosier cities share similarities and differences in their infrastructure, populations, and strategies. The problem many of our cities face is coordinating the workforce, housing, education, and social services ecosystem to ensure that programs are effectively and efficiently impacting residents. For our local Workforce Development Boards, there is the added layer of how they can add value to this ecosystem and partner with various organizations – including city government – to successfully deliver these services to Hoosiers.

Evansville: In many ways, Evansville is a city on the precipice of upward economic mobility. With an increase in population, a chance for increased investment from industry due to infrastructure changes to I-69, and a steady amount of job openings in the city, Evansville looks to be a thriving economic hub in southwestern Indiana. The I-69 project will have a major impact on future planning for Vanderburgh County and the city of Evansville. Its influence on land use and city planning around these improvements will allow this area of the state to maximize this access point and its ability to drive activity for the community. From 1990 to 2010, the population of Vanderburgh County, including Evansville, has increased by over 14,000 people. This trend is projected to continue through at least 2035. With this growth comes a need for an increase in housing opportunities. The county projects a gain of almost 11,000 housing units to combat this potential increase in residents.

The city plans on both demolishing blighted homes and redeveloping neighborhoods to meet the needs of the future, since about a third of homes were built before 1935. In 2010, 22.7% of owner-occupied units and 53.1% of renter occupied units were burdened in Evansville. Burdened residents incur housing rates that take more than 30% of their overall income. This resulted in an estimated 17,612 city households burdened in the city. This burden can lead to threats of mortgage default, eviction and homelessness, and stress. The Evansville Housing Authorities, in collaboration with Advantix Development Corporation, has recently converted 888 units of public housing to project-based voucher funding. This will allow for greater housing security for residents. By indemnifying funding and investing in building repair, Evansville is taking the steps necessary to maintain affordable, up-to-date housing for its residents. As the city continues to expand these collaborative efforts, more families will benefit, potentially lessening the amount of households burdened in the city and providing Evansville residents with the quality of life they need to thrive.

Similar to other Indiana cities, Evansville’s household income rates are below that of both the state and the country. The median household income for the county is $42,369 with the city of Evansville at on $35,469. Approximately 15%, or 28,000, residents live below the poverty line in Vanderburgh County. Increasing wages will be critical to talent development and retention in Evansville. As both youth and adults attain a greater amount of postsecondary credentials, business attraction will also improve, which may have a positive impact on wages.[11]

Fort Wayne: Indiana’s second largest city is Fort Wayne; it is the 75th largest city in America with a population over 250,000. Fort Wayne is located in Allen County and serves as the economic and cultural center of northeastern Indiana. This city and the surrounding region has continued to achieve steady population growth in recent decades. As Allen County moves into the 21st Century, its economy is in the midst of a fundamental and gradual transition moving from a long-standing dependence on industry to a knowledge-based economy. This ongoing transition continues to carry significant implications for the community, its workers, and its residents. The relationship between comprehensive planning and economic development is certainly affected by this shift. Past city plans had centered around equating economic development with industrial development, concentrating on planning for future industrial sites. But in adopting its latest comprehensive plan in 2007, the city made an emphasis to begin thinking about its economic growth and overall prosperity through a broader mindset.[12

As was common throughout Rust Belt cities, the 1970s and 1980s were times of economic depression in Fort Wayne, when much of the city’s manufacturing foundation eroded and the blue-collar workforce shrank. The 1990’s started a period of positive change for the city as it diversified its economy, reduced crime, and invested in downtown redevelopment. Manufacturing now employs only 16.9% of Allen County's workforce, with distribution, transportation, and logistics (23.1%), healthcare (17.9%), professional and business services (12.1%), leisure and hospitality (11.1%), and financial services (6.3%) serving as other significant sectors of employment.[13]

Despite economic diversification, the city was significantly impacted by the Great Recession. The Pew Research Center found that the city lost nearly a quarter of its manufacturing jobs and 11% of its economic status between 2000 and 2014.[14] This impact was particularly felt by Fort Wayne’s less affluent areas, with an Economic Innovation Group's 2016 Distressed Communities Index Report ranking Fort Wayne among the most unequal large cities in the U.S. in terms of linking economic opportunities to its distressed zip codes.[15]

A significant challenge Allen County has been facing is the opioid epidemic, with an overall estimate of 60,000 individuals misusing opioids. As a result, the criminal justice system is burdened with first-time and repeat drug offenders, many unable to break the cycle of addiction. Subsequently, sufficient residential treatment and sober living in the community cannot meet the demand. Along with the state’s overall focus on this topic, the city has been making continuous investments towards addressing this concern, including utilizing surplus funds from this past fiscal year to support the local police department and social service partners in their efforts to combat the epidemic.

Housing diversification is also a significant need for the city’s future success. As the type of families living in Fort Wayne has diversified, the availability of housing has not kept up. From 1970 to 2000, the number of non-family (no spouse or dependent children living with householder) households in the county increased by 26,206 and represented 33% of all households, compared to 19% in 1970.  As the city moves forward, a continual focus on balanced economic growth across existing and new industries and businesses will be essential to weather any future downturns in specific sectors. Diversifying housing options and continuing to invest in various quality of life initiatives will also be important towards the continuing flourishing of Fort Wayne. 

This city stands out among Indiana’s urban centers through it efforts spearheading regional leadership. The Northeast Regional Partnership is a regional collaborative organization focused on increasing business investment, improving quality of life, and growing the population in the Northeast region of Indiana.  The Partnership is comprised of the 11 counties surrounding Fort Wayne. The mission of this organization is not restricted to the urban areas of Fort Wayne, but encompass all of the Northeastern area of Indiana foster business investments and economic growth. The strategies this area has employed to increase economic development include:

  • Certified sites: By meeting a stringent set of criteria to minimize potential roadblocks and ensure fast-track construction, the certified sites program makes it easier to relocate or expand business.
  • Industry Cluster Initiative: The Partnership identifies and targets specific industries that are high-growth and high-potential sectors. 
  • Vision 2030: This is a regional initiative designed to transform Northeast Indiana into a top global competitor by focusing on a common mission to develop, attract, and retain talent. From business climate and infrastructure to education and entrepreneurship, the goal of Vision 2030 is three-fold: 1) Increase the Per Capita Personal Income to 90% against the national average; 2) increase the population of Northeast Indiana to 1 million residents; and 3) increase postsecondary education and credential attainment to more than 60%.

The Partnership integrates stakeholders from various aspects of the workforce development system, including the Local Economic Development Organization (LEDO) Council, the Regional Opportunities Council, regional Workforce Development Board, and the Mayors and Commissioners Caucus provides our government leaders from all 11 counties with a unified voice to advance economic development policies at the state level.

Fort Wayne has consistently seen a low unemployment rate and a strong labor force participation rate in recent years. Latest data put the overall unemployment rate at just over 3% amongst the workforce of over 219,000 individuals. Additionally, both state and local investments are targeting quality of life and investments in neighborhoods throughout the city. Fort Wayne was also named an Ability City by Ability Indiana, as a recognition of the community’s commitment to supporting the employment of individuals with disabilities. Fort Wayne and Allen County partnered in the creation of the City-County Disability Advisory Council to assist in providing equal access for people with disabilities with employment, services, programs, and activities. Recent investments into partnerships through agencies such as Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana, which provides support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, are being used to ensure individuals with disabilities have access to vocational assessment and skills training and accessible employment opportunities.

Gary: Urban blight, the deterioration of a city due to aging, neglect, and financial support, has created serious concerns for the City of Gary.  The historic city, created originally for employing and housing the workers and families of US Steel Gary Works, has experienced drastic changes since the loss of this industry.  Neighborhoods were built for a completely different time, and, since the loss of a large chunk of the steel industry, Gary has experienced an exodus of its population. The city is approximately 50 square miles in size but, 40% of city’s land is vacant. One in five homes are vacant and two in five homes are blighted. Since 2015 over 1,300 homes have been demolished, and the estimated cost to completely demolish vacant buildings in Gary is around $100 million. Poor land use decisions have resulted in conflicting land use patterns across the city. With the decrease in residents and businesses comes a decrease in taxes and funding. This budget deficit has greatly impacted the city and its ability to maintain its community and support its residents. Gary is in significant need of revitalization that will require strategic plans to attract new businesses, industries, and new opportunities for its people.

Gary’s economic activity has been stagnant for decades. Dining, retail, and commerce are limited to only small nodes, a few strip malls and a few city blocks. Even when a commercial building is occupied, it is often surrounded by vacant and abandoned properties. A third of the land in Gary is industrial land. In many areas, industrial land borders residential neighborhoods, creating negative impacts on traffic, noise, and pollution. Even Gary’s natural assets, such as wetlands, dunes, swale ecosystems, and biodiverse habitats, are located adjacent to industrial land, threatening the ecological health of these natural resources.

Gary’s schools were planned for a much larger population than what exists currently, leading to 29 of the 60 school sites in the city being inactive. The Gary Community Schools Corporation was taken over by the Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB) in 2017, making the school district a Distressed Political Subdivision. The takeover was triggered by the district’s $22 million deficit, which made operations difficult for the struggling schools. The Gary Community School Corporation only serves students at 9 sites with the remainder of students being served by charter schools. A number of charter schools in Gary are housed in repurposed buildings that were not intended for schools. This leads to a lack of pedestrian infrastructure, making sidewalks and crosswalks an added infrastructure need across the city. 

Despite the struggles the city faces, Gary still possesses numerous assets that provide both current and future opportunities to its citizens. Gary’s extensive natural assets are both valued by residents and provide potential as Gary works to modernize its infrastructure. Vacant buildings can provide for redevelopment opportunities for the community. Community anchors, such as Indiana University Northwest, Downtown, Lake Street, the Gary-Chicago International Airport, and along Broadway in Glen Park, serve as reminders that Gary still has much to offer historically and culturally to Indiana and the nation. The highest vacant areas have the best access to amenities, transit, and transportation infrastructure, creating an opportunity to redevelop Gary’s central core.

There are 29,656 jobs available in Gary. The labor force participation rate is 51% with a median household income of $28,895. In comparison, Lake County writ large has a median household income of $50,905. Gary has more jobs than employed residents, which reflects the city’s demographic challenges rather than its strength as a job center. From 2005-2015, Gary experienced job loss of more than 3,800 jobs. These losses have occurred in both industries that serve local residents and external markets. Though a turnaround in Gary will take time, there is potential to reinvigorate its industrial sector and work towards increasing its presence in other economic sectors. Gary is a central location for both American and Canadian markets, has land available for industrial use, and has significant transportation and infrastructure assets that can help to revive its economy. Because of the job openings, Gary can also start to draw in talent from surrounding areas, as well as upskill current residents, to foster economic growth.

Current signs of opportunity are present in Gary, with the city seeing an uptick in entrepreneurship, especially amongst women and minorities, in recent years. This type of progress from local residents can be a driving force in building stability in the community. Business development programs have been created to help the community actualize its dreams. By building networks amongst these organizations and better advertising these opportunities across Lake County and the northwestern region of Indiana into the Chicago suburbs, we can help more future entrepreneurs obtain the resources needed to create economic mobility for this community.[16]

Indianapolis: The City of Indianapolis is the most populous city in the state of Indiana and the 17th most populous city in the U.S. 2018 Census estimates place the population at approximately 876,862 residents as the city nears its bicentennial in 2020.[17] The Indianapolis metropolitan area has long served as the growth engine for the state and continues to account for a significant percentage of Indiana’s recent economic growth. Past decades saw growth in more suburban areas of Indianapolis, but recent trends show individuals increasingly moving back into the urban core. In 2002, Marion County accounted for just 2.7% of Central Indiana’s population growth; but by 2012, Marion County accounted for 41% of the region’s population growth.[18] With U.S. trends increasingly showing that greater percentages of the overall population will locate in urban centers, it can be expected that the Indianapolis region will continue to be the location of an ever-increasing share of Indiana’s workforce.

Indianapolis benefits from a diverse economy, with significant employment in finance and insurance, manufacturing, professional and business services, education and healthcare, and government. As with other cities, Indianapolis has experienced recent decreases in the manufacturing sector that have resulted in the loss of a common pathway to the middle class that did not require formal postsecondary education. Between 2000 and 2010, the Indianapolis region lost more than 19,000 manufacturing jobs, with 92% of this loss occurring in Marion County. Many of these jobs paid above median wages and have been a significant factor in Indianapolis’ post-recession job gains not resulting in an overall median wage increase.

In terms of sheer numbers, Indianapolis’ workforce is stable. Jobs in some sectors may have left, but the overall workforce has remained steady. Marion County’s workforce challenge lies primarily in its ability to: 1) improve the availability of reliable and affordable transportation options so that people can get to work, and 2) better match skilled workers with the jobs that become available. Regarding the second item, the continual focus at the national and state levels behind workforce development initiatives that equip adults who are already in the workforce with the skills to fill in-demand middle-skill jobs, defined as jobs requiring a high school education but not a four-year college degree, will be key to achieving success with this population.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007–2011 American Community Survey indicated the median household income for the city of Indianapolis was $42,704, and the median family income was $53,161. Median income for males working full-time, year-round, was $42,101, compared to $34,788 for females. Per capita income for the city was $24,430. Approximately 14% of families and 18.9% of the city’s total population were living below the poverty line (28.3% were under the age of 18 and 9.2% were age 65 or older).[19] As mentioned above, Indianapolis ranked 47 for intergenerational mobility among the 50 Largest Commuting Zones in the US, Indianapolis ranked 47, indicating that children born in this urban area have low chances of economic mobility compared to their peers in other urban areas.[20]

Finding avenues to guide the 90,900 working-age adults in Marion County that lack a high school diploma or equivalent and the 171,059 working-age adults that have attained only a high school diploma or equivalent towards meaningful, self-sustaining work is one of the city’s significant Bicentennial challenges. Additionally, one-third of children (more than 74,000) in Marion County live in poverty.

Compared to other large cities, housing in Indianapolis is relatively affordable and plentiful. In 2013, Indianapolis ranked fifth out of 100 metro areas in the nation for affordability, with 83 percent of homes for sale in the region affordable to middle-class families. Marion County has more than 418,000 homes that are very diverse in terms of age, size, and value. Housing challenges that persist include the ability to offer fair housing, quality housing units, and a need for more subsidized housing units for very low-income residents.[21]

Indianapolis has a long history of leading the way on public-private partnerships and has a robust philanthropic community. Past efforts have involved large-scale projects, like a community zoo, the world’s largest children’s museum, an NFL stadium, an elite public hospital, and investment in the city’s nationally renowned convention center. These efforts have been vital towards attracting talent and investment to the region and similar efforts will continue to be instrumental to the city’s future success.

The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) was formed to bring together the chief executives of Central Indiana’s prominent corporations, foundations, and universities in a strategic and collaborative effort dedicated to the region’s continued prosperity and growth. CICP has launched several talent and industry sector initiatives, focused on generating awareness, investment, collaboration, and identifiable progress for their industry sectors. Another key effort has been the dual focus on both talent attraction and skills growth through workforce development. Several of CICP’s initiatives have launched efforts to help identify and address the challenges of developing, attracting, and retaining the kinds of technically and technologically skilled talent the leading sectors of economic opportunity will require for continued growth. CICP is critical to developing the strategy and collaboration of the Indianapolis region. CICP has played an integral role community development projects, including early childhood education, mass transit, and helping Indianapolis secure and plan the 2012 Super Bowl. In 2015, CICP was instrumental in developing and securing infrastructure funding from the City of Indianapolis for the 16 Tech innovation community near downtown Indianapolis that will serve as a place to live, work, play and learn for the entire region.

The city’s recent Bicentennial Comprehensive Plan takes a focus on turning the energy displayed by philanthropic, public, and private partners on these large projects towards less noticeable efforts focused on improving the daily lives of citizens. Initiatives, such as developing strategies to increase the graduation rate, investing in re-training or dropout programs, improving transportation options, and revitalizing the city’s infrastructure, will be key to improving daily life, particularly for many of the city’s disenfranchised populations. The Governor’s Workforce Cabinet continues to engage a wide spectrum of these partners in the Indianapolis region on a variety of efforts focused on meeting the state’s workforce challenges through regional advancements in the Indianapolis region.

The Common Need: A common trend seen amongst these cities and throughout the state is the need for urban revitalization. Communities suffer when there is a lack of opportunity. Lack of jobs, urban blight, low-wage and low-skill attainment, these things all weigh heavy on a city and its ability to thrive.  All of these urban areas house tracts that have earned the Opportunity Zone designation. With this designation, the areas that are struggling most can start to attract businesses with tax incentives. Ten year designations help to guarantee a longer presence of these new companies within the community. By attracting businesses, we can increase investments in these communities, which benefit all parties involved – businesses enter into communities with residents who are ready to work, workers gain skills to help them be successful while earning a wage that can help them sustain a lifestyle, and tax collection increases and more money is created to be put back into the community.

The other clear need of all these communities is upskilling. The median household income for all of the profiled cities is below that of the national average. Because postsecondary attainment leads to both skills attainment and salary increase, it is necessary that we increase postsecondary credentialing of urban Hoosiers. Programs, such as 21st Century Scholars, Adult Student Grant, Next Level Jobs, Frank O’Bannon scholarship, and others can be the catalyst for change in these Hoosier communities. For Hoosiers who need to earn their high school equivalency or need assistance with basic skills, Adult Education can give them the extra boost needed to fully participate in the workforce. WorkOnes across the state can help with career counseling to help Hoosiers as they plan next steps. Education is one of our biggest strategies in helping serve the needs of our urban families and their communities.
 

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement these practices through strategic use of WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. Where applicable, local Boards or community organizations can coordinate with state agencies to apply for SNAP 50/50 FNS, which will serve as a 50% federal match for any state or philanthropic funding dedicated to SNAP recipients receiving Employment and Training services. These practices are Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, the practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our urban populations in surmounting their unique circumstances.

Opportunity Zones (Federal Program): The Opportunity Zones incentive is a community investment tool established by Congress to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide.[22] Up to 25% of a state’s low-income census tracts are eligible for designation, which permitted Indiana to nominate up to 156 census tracts as Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Zones provide federal capital gains tax advantages for investments made in these areas. This designation is intended to attract capital investment into areas that are economically distressed. The goal is to spur long-term private sector investments in low-income communities.

Map of IN Opportunity Zones

[23]

Opportunity Zones offer investors the following tax incentives for putting their capital to work in low-income communities:

  • temporary tax deferral for capital gains reinvested in an Opportunity Fund. The deferred gain must be recognized on the earlier of the date on which the opportunity zone investment is sold or December 31, 2026.
  • step-up in basis for capital gains reinvested in an Opportunity Fund. The basis of the original investment is increased by 10% if the investment in the qualified opportunity zone fund is held by the taxpayer for at least 5 years, and by an additional 5% if held for at least 7 years, excluding up to 15% of the original gain from taxation.
  • permanent exclusion from taxable income of capital gains from the sale or exchange of an investment in a qualified opportunity zone fund, if the investment is held for at least 10 years. (Note: this exclusion applies to the gains accrued from an investment in an Opportunity Fund, not the original gains).[24]

These benefits make investing in these particular communities more alluring for businesses. Our Workforce Development Boards can work with Local Economic Development Offices to increase awareness of Opportunity Zones amongst businesses. Through multiple avenues, locals can increase investments into communities that need it most, allowing for massive improvements for Zones across the state.

Indy East Promise Zone(Federal Program): In April 2015, the Near Eastside of Indianapolis was one of eight communities designated as a federal “Promise Zone.” This status gives high-poverty areas an advantage when competing for federal grants as part of their redevelopment efforts. Since receiving this designation, the Indy East Promise Zone (IEPZ) has worked together with the city of Indianapolis and local implementation partners to move the Near Eastside forward. They have worked to build capacity for implementation, refine implementation plans, and collect baseline data. This groundwork has positioned Indianapolis to take advantage of federal partnerships and has resulted in the award of 29 grants from 12 federal agencies totaling over $123 million and the provision of technical assistance from the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Justice, and Agriculture. With this support, the IEPZ implementation partners have made notable progress on the five goal areas that shape their work: Live (affordable housing), Learn (education), Work (employment), Buy (economic development), and Safe (public safety):

  • Live INDYEAST - The IEPZ, Near East Area Renewal, Renew Indianapolis, the Department of Metropolitan Development, and the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership have partnered to reduce resident turnover, demolish or renovate condemned and abandoned properties, eliminate lead hazards, offer repair subsidies for low-income homeowners, and develop affordable housing.
  • Learn INDYEAST - The IEPZ, the John Boner Neighborhood Centers, United Way of Central Indiana, and Indianapolis Public Schools have partnered to improve health outcomes and school readiness for infants and toddlers, family economic stability, parent engagement in their children’s learning, and cultural competency and racial equity in schools districtwide.
  • Work INDYEAST - The IEPZ, the City of Indianapolis, the Department of Metropolitan Development, and the Department of Public Works have partnered to remediate contamination and revive commerce on abandoned former industrial sites, improve the infrastructure that connects homes and jobs, encourage local entrepreneurship, and provide incentives to attract employers to the Near Eastside.
  • Buy INDYEAST - The IEPZ, the City of Indianapolis, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Metropolitan Development, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and Englewood Community Development Corporation have partnered to lay the groundwork for new commercial districts with an emphasis on arts-based community development. In addition to reviving the P.R. Mallory Building and Circle City Industrial Complex, they have employed artists to enhance aesthetic appeal, connectivity, and sense of place through initiatives such as the Pogue’s Run Trail and farmer’s market promotion funding.
  • Safe INDYEAST- The IEPZ, the City of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, RecycleForce, and the John Boner Neighborhood Centers have partnered to expand access to workforce and entrepreneurship opportunities and have collaborated on several pilot projects focused on improving public safety through strategies centered on art and Crime Prevention through Environmental Design. Additionally, pilot programs focused on mental health and addictions aid in developing strategies that can be replicated in other communities.[25]

We encourage other neighborhoods replicate efforts similar to the IEPZ to create a better future for their communities. By utilizing community partners across the state with similar resources and supports, communities can create their own visions for a better tomorrow and work to implement changes that will have a massive impact on the quality of life of all residents both now and in the future.

[1] US Census Bureau defines as Urbanized Areas (UAs) of 50,000 or more people and Urban Clusters (UCs) of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people (Urban and Rural).

[2] A census tract is a statistical subdivision of a county (akin to a neighborhood). Census tracts average about 4,000 inhabitants (US Census Bureau).

[3] Dobis et al., 2019. Dimensions of Indiana Poverty.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Poverty to Prosperity Program and the CAP Economic Policy Team, March 2015. Expanding Opportunities in America’s Urban Areas.

[6] Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2012. Data Snapshot on High-Poverty Communities.

[7] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, February 2019. 2018 FSS Updated Chart.

[8] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, February 2019. HUD Awards $74 Million To Help Families Reach Self-Sufficiency.

[9] Chetty et al., 2014. Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States.

[10]US DOL Apprenticeship Toolkit.

[11] Evansville-Vanderburgh County Area Plan Commission, June 2016. Evansville-Vanderburgh County Comprehensive Plan 2015-2035.

[12] Ft. Wayne-Allen County Comprehensive Plan Commission, 2007. Plan-It Allen!

[13] Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. 2014. Annual Labor Force.

[14] Pew Research Center, 2016. “America’s Shrinking Middle Class: A Close Look at Changes within Metropolitan Areas.”

[15] Economic Innovation Group, 2016. “2016 Distressed Communities Index Report.

[16] Reinvest in Gary, 2019. City of Gary 2019 Comprehensive Plan

[17] United States Census Bureau. “Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places of 50,000 or More”

[18] Indianapolis City-County Comprehensive Plan “Plan 2020 Bicentennial Agenda”.

[19] U.S. Census Bureau. “Selected Economic Characteristics: 2007-2011 American Community Survey”

[20] Chetty et al., 2014. Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States.

[21] Indianapolis City-County Comprehensive Plan “Plan 2020 Bicentennial Agenda.”

[22] The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-97) allowed governors to nominate certain census tracts as Opportunity Zones, subject to approval from the U.S. Department of Treasury.

[23]Indiana’s Opportunity Zones.

[24] Economic Innovation Group, 2020. History of Opportunity Zones.

[25] Indiana University Public Policy Institute, December 2018. INDYEAST Promise Zone: Baseline & Progress Report.

 

Rural poverty became a prominent policy issue beginning in 1966, when President Lyndon Johnson created the National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty. The Commission recognized that the very technology changes driving increases in agricultural efficiency and production were also exacerbating rural poverty. It also found much of America’s rural poverty to be structural, the result of policies and laws that systematically put rural places at a disadvantage. The Commission’s 158 recommendations ranged from increasing access to education to improving health care, ideas that remain present in our current policy strategies to uplift our rural communities.

Though policymakers currently focus on more strategic use of direct service programs, such as Medicaid, SNAP, and TANF, via better coordination, implementation, and/or service expansion (e.g., investments in rural infrastructure), we need to enhance our policy approaches to vault rural communities towards diversified, durable, and inclusive economies that improve social and economic outcomes for all. This may require a renewed approach to rural economic and community development that focuses more on postsecondary educational access, persistence, and attainment.

In understanding the rural policy landscape, it is important to note that the Census Bureau does not actually define “rural.” The term “rural” encompasses all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area; whatever is not urban is considered rural. The Census identifies two types of areas:

  • Urbanized Areas (UAs) of 50,000 or more people;
  • Urban Clusters (UCs) of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people.[1]

In recent years, rural and urban communities experienced economic development in the US economy differently. The Great Recession in 2008 hit harder and lasted longer in rural communities, and economic recovery in many rural communities has not matched that in urban areas. The economic lag and persistent poverty in rural Indiana has influenced social, health, and educational outcomes. As rural job growth lagged behind urban areas, rural residents looked increasingly outside their communities to find new work and opportunities. Declining population, limited employment opportunities, and lack of public investment pose significant challenges to the economic vitality of rural communities. The education gap between urban and rural America has also widened substantially over the past fifteen years, creating a talent gap that can hamper economic development and growth. Rural communities face a variety of structural challenges constraining growth. Rural economies are more likely than urban ones to heavily rely on a single industry or employer, which leaves them vulnerable should the employer leave town. Insufficient rural infrastructure, such as roads, water systems, and access to broadband, can limit economic growth and opportunities. Addressing the workforce challenges facing rural communities requires a comprehensive strategy that examines the unique assets and needs in rural Indiana.

Due to low population density, Indiana’s rural Workforce Development Boards cover many counties and large geographic regions. Our rural WorkOnes often cover more counties than their non-rural counterparts and have larger service areas in terms of square miles. Given the slow recovery of rural regions from the Recession, out-migration of younger and well-educated workers, and increases in the share of customers who are English learners or have criminal records, our WorkOnes often serve this high-need population with fewer staff and less funding over a larger area than non-rural WorkOnes. One potential advantage of having fewer staff is that many of our rural WorkOnes cross-train their staff to help provide a variety of programs, though this can also be a challenge, given additional program-specific responsibilities.

Other barriers Indiana’s rural workforce faces includes:

  • Access to childcare, specifically for non-traditional shifts, is limited;
  • Lack of public transportation and sole reliance on private sources;
  • Trainings to develop needed workforce skills are often held during times when the resident is not able to attend, such as during the work day, which would require them to take off of work to attend;
  • Programs are held at inopportune locations, exacerbating the transportation issue;
  • Lack of broadband access and telecommunications infrastructure;
  • Limited understanding of the area’s employer’s needs;
  • Trainings are sometimes based on a snapshot of needs at one point in time and do translate into long-term career advancement or sustainability;
  • Access to up-to-date facilities and equipment can be limited;
  • Services are not readily available to widely dispersed customers;
  • Insufficient number of available service providers to offer all youth program elements; and
  • Fewer WorkOne partners than in urban areas.

Though individuals within this target population may also fall under other groups and subgroups, this section is structured around overcoming the specific barriers that can derail Hoosiers living in the rural areas of the state. Additional services identified in other sections may be available to rural individuals contingent on eligibility, but the geographic barrier rurality creates is the primary issue addressed below. It is the way in which our Core, Partner, and state programs and services can be differentiated to directly support and address distinctive challenges of this target population. Through this systemic approach, we aim to establish foundational administrative functions to provide rural Hoosiers’ with greater education and training, employment services, and wraparound supports. Though the aim of this section is to provide a comprehensive view on the workforce and social services system in rural Indiana, it does not encompass all local programs and opportunities throughout our workforce regions. Our Workforce Development Boards will enhance the foundational level of services outlined in the Plan through local programs and implementation. The local Boards will explain how they can include local programs, systems, and nuance to achieve an integrated delivery of workforce and social supports and maximize federal, state, and local investments in our talent development system.

Job recruitment and retention has shifted to people recruitment and retention in our rural counties. This type of economic development incorporates strategies (such as housing programs, visitor engagement, current resident engagement, and investments in natural amenities and quality of life) focus on people instead of only jobs. Through this Combined Plan focusing on integrating the disparate services within the workforce and social systems, our Workforce Development Boards can find ways to braid various federal funding streams in an effort to maximize the investments in these areas. Though many of our local Boards endeavor to achieve this currently, we hope this Plan allows them to push their regions further in how to best utilize funds to serve overlapping populations. One strategy that may help our rural Boards achieve this goal is co-location. While some locations have executed co-location of services to meet Hoosiers’ needs, we would like to see this strategy scaled through a variety of innovative approaches.

One approach to co-location our local regions could examine is a network model, wherein the local board was responsible for overseeing staffing and management of the entire network of any and all workforce development service. Partnerships through the network model can include Partner Programs, such as SNAP and TANF, providing services to any WorkOne in the network primarily by traveling between them rather than being on-site full-time at any one location. Additional co-location strategies include:

  • Formal co-location. Rural WorkOnes generally tend to co-locate Wagner-Peyser and the Adult and Dislocated Worker programs, because of small center facilities, distance from main office locations, and limited staff capacity. Formal location can often help transportation barriers if someone needs multiple services in rural areas.
  • Using itinerant staff. These are staff members who come to the WorkOne when called or requested and do not have a set schedule. This is most commonly used currently with Vocational Rehabilitation partners, but it could expand to include our Partner Programs, as well. Itinerant staffing models can bring services to where people are rather than concentrating programs and services in any particular center.
  • Embedding staff. Staff habitually travel between different offices rather than being on-site full-time at any one location. These are regular work schedules that have staff working in different offices or locations and with different program staff. Staff members co-locate with various programs by moving among offices and locations recurrently.
  • Mobile locations. Another partnership negotiated at the network level is temporarily co-locating or sharing space with the local public library system, schools, local businesses and chambers of commerce, and other locations that have community engagement throughout the local area. These are, essentially, portable WorkOnes that pop up in different centers of community activity. This initiative seeks to expand the reach of workforce resources by going to places with high community activity, rather than waiting for Hoosiers to come into the office. This approach demonstrates how rural areas can adopt the regionalism emphasized in WIOA to the benefit of job seekers.
  • Referral relationships. Some of our WorkOnes have a common system, using a “warm hand-off” process, to ensure direct contact with partners or following up to ensure services had been received. Referrals between different programs must be collaborative and coordinated. WorkOnes, community partners, schools, and institutions of higher education should liaise referrals for constituents person-to-person, rather than merely program-to-program. Both follow-through and follow-up are necessary to ensure quality for the constituent. For those WorkOnes with a referral process, referrals could be a feasible option for facilitating access to Partner Programs in a rural context. Some WorkOnes also have closer proximity to partners, which facilitates the formal referral processes. For those WorkOnes that can adopt the strategies above for co-location, the network model allows for the Workforce Development Board to develop and maintain relationships with Core and Partner Programs.[2]
     
    After examining contracts, lease agreements, and site location, physical co-location may be a viable option for Core and Partner Programs. In those regions where it is not, itinerant/embedded staff, mobile sites, common referral and case management systems, or other innovative partnership strategies should be considered.

Options to implement co-location in rural Indiana include:

Access PointsCo-located Partners/Services
Comprehensive WorkOne
  • WIOA Adult and Dislocated Worker staff on-site
  • Wagner-Peyser staff on-site
  • At least one other Core Program partner (e.g., Adult Education or Vocational Rehabilitation) on-site
  • At least one Partner Program (e.g., SNAP, TANF, Perkins) on-site
  • Community college representative(s) on-site
  • Community organization representative(s) on-site
Affiliate WorkOne
  • Either WIOA Adult and Dislocated Worker or Wagner-Peyser staff on-site
  • At least one other Core or Partner Program on-site
  • Community college or organization representative(s) on-site
Satellite WorkOne
  • One full-time employee under WIOA Adult and Dislocated Worker or Wagner-Peyser staff on-site
  • One full-time employee from a Core or Partner Program or community college, organization, or employer
Mobile WorkOne
  • Services via phone or electronic access
  • Core and Partner Program staff travel to meet with customers near their homes, in their workplaces, in schools, at partner offices, and even in local restaurants or cafes
  • Core and Partner Program staff offer services in various hubs of community activity – libraries, schools, chambers of commerce, Local Economic Development Organizations offices, community college campuses, and community centers
  • Community colleges or training providers offer distance learning arrangements via online courses or in various hubs of community activity
Temporary WorkOne
  • Access points established primarily in response to major layoffs, but could be setup for any reason; these sites are located on-site or very close to the affected worksite with the aim of making services more accessible to workers

Through our Combined Plan, we must recognize interdependency between our rural and urban regions through our system of workforce and social services. Our rural-urban symbiosis can span common geographic conditions, supply chains that fuel industry sectors with services, goods and talent, transportation and affordability-driven employee commuting patterns, media markets, and the goal to secure essential goods and services locally. In some areas of Indiana, rural places and cities serve as important markets for each other. Our regional plans need to include intentional action about how to capitalize upon this economic and social interdependence. This may include some of our urban initiatives analyzing rural-urban connections and strategies regarding transportation, land-use, agriculture, and water management.

Indiana’s Region 10 Workforce Board created the Bi-State Plan with Kentuckiana Works to advance the regional workforce. This Plan is the first of its kind to merge interstate regions into one designated workforce hub. This significant collaboration exists between local areas Indiana Region 10 and Kentuckiana Works in order to develop the regional plan around the Louisville metropolitan area, which includes urban and rural sprawl in southern Indiana. The Bi-State Regional Plan creates an innovative picture of the region’s economy and workforce environment through rural-urban, Indiana-Kentucky strategies to attain regional goals and objections.

Co-Enrolled Programs: Hoosiers who live in rural areas will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core and Partner Program ActivitiesandIndividual Servicesfor rural adults.

Title I-Adult (Core Program): Our rural communities can use Title I to promote postsecondary education of all types to upskill Hoosiers and to attract new jobs and future-proof the jobs that are already there. Schools, community organizations, and higher education institutions help anchor employers through investments in assets like education. Access to skilled workers can be a major factor in business site selection for large employers and entrepreneurs alike. Because relevancy of training programs and skills has been an issue for our rural regions, these communities could leverage this funding stream to increase trainings within the business through work-based learning or an eligible provider, as opposed to an offsite location. Title I could help subsidize on-the-job training expenses or wages. Embedding training with an employer could help address the obstacle of transportation to multiple places that could be spread across a wide geographic expanse. It also allow rural Hoosiers to earn and learn simultaneously.

By integrating our disparate strands of the workforce and social services systems, this funding can help increase postsecondary educational attainment for our rural Hoosiers, because educational attainment and economic outcomes are also closely linked. The increased earnings of a degree more than exceed the total costs of college, including debt, for most students within only a few years after graduation. Wages may not differ as much just one year after graduation, but differences in earnings five to ten years out can be substantial. The earlier someone gets postsecondary education or training in their lifetimes, the likelihood for upward mobility increases. Nationally, about 99% of jobs created since the Great Recession went to workers with at least some college.Higher education not only improves individual outcomes, it also helps build stronger communities and strengthens the economy. Over the course of a lifetime, each cohort of Indiana public college graduates contributes at least $13 billion or more in additional spending and tax revenue to the economy compared to Hoosiers with only a high school diploma. Conversely, Hoosiers without college are more than twice as likely to file for unemployment, accounting for two-thirds of all unemployment claims in the past decade. As technologies change, and as increasing competition from online and multinational giants put pressure on small, local businesses, those with the most skills or formal education are best positioned to do well financially.[3]

Additional dollars added to the economy by Hoosiers with a degree compared to high school graduates

 

In addition to WIOA Adult funding, rural WorkOnes can leverage both state and federal financial aid opportunities under the FAFSA. One focal point for rural Hoosiers’ training is to ensure the long-term transferability of the skills and knowledge gained through education and training programs. Guaranteeing the longevity of skills rather than just the immediacy of skills can be achieved through stackable, transferrable credentials. These type of portable credit-bearing certifications will comprise both our career pathways under WIOA and programs of study under Perkins. To assist rural Hoosiers with access to these pathways, our local regions can work with our postsecondary institutions, career centers, employers, and other training providers to offer programs virtually via a chatbox feature or in different locales throughout the region. The options for selecting training providers in our rural regions can be limited, and available providers are sometimes located too far from individuals’ homes. Given the low demand for some programs, providers may charge higher tuitions than training providers in more populated areas. Increasing the variability and quality of education and training options will ensure that rural Hoosiers can access effective programming similar to their urban neighbors. It will also help address costs for Title I.

Employers could develop and deliver programs in partnership with educational institutions, technical schools, and local governments. Trainings could be hosted by employers or at businesses, in conjunction with educational institutions or providers (or independently if the employer is on the Eligible Training Provider List). This could help with keeping skills and programs relevant and up-to-date with industry, as well as assist with transportation issues, since businesses may be more conveniently located than some institutions. As Indiana implements Credential Engine more broadly, Title I can be used toward funding cross-industry skills credentialing. Credential Engine provides tools and services to find, understand, and compare information about credentials in a user-friendly format. Hoosiers can receive reliable credentialing information to help decide what credential or career pathway works best for their needs. As a rural Hoosier earns these types of credentials, they are able to demonstrate their skills for in-demand jobs and the applicability of those skills to future work.

A common barrier rural Hoosiers face is transportation. Due to the sprawling nature of rural Indiana, accessing employment, education opportunities, and other types of services often require private transportation. For low-income Hoosiers living in rural areas, any type of transportation derailment could have a rippling effect on their economic and social options. A common use of Title I by rural local areas, therefore, is to provide Hoosiers with transportation vouchers to cover the cost of gas or vehicle maintenance. Subsidizing transportation costs through supportive service payments could also cover mileage reimbursement. Title I could help alleviate the strain of transportation rural Hoosiers often feel in additional ways. It can fund providing transportation to and from education or training programs. In addition to vouchers, Title I can fund the formation of carpools or transporting Hoosiers in shuttle vans to various types of locations, such as regional community college campuses, trainings, talent tours, and interviews. Providing direct transportation to customers is not always a reliable option for activities beyond one-time visits, so local discretion is needed. Title I can help combat the challenge posed by the lack of public transportation in more remote parts of a service area.

Childcare is another barrier that may be exacerbated by rural sprawl. As described in the Upskill/Reskill section, single parents face a range of challenges navigating workforce and childcare policies: the complexity of arranging childcare with education and training activities, as well as work and earning an income; limited information or awareness about childcare options; financial constraints and limited access to childcare subsidies or low-cost/free care options; and limited supply of good quality care overall, specifically in certain regions on the state. The sparsity of childcare options in rural Indiana intensifies these issues already facing single parents. Indiana’s rural counties are often considered ‘childcare deserts,’ preventing many rural Hoosiers from accessing economic opportunities. Most Indiana census tracts (an area of approximately 2,500 to 3,000 households within a county) have a ratio of 0.33 to 1.49 childcare spots to children under 5. 281 tracts were categorized as childcare hubs, while 149 tracts were identified as childcare deserts. Both hubs and deserts have reasonably high numbers of jobs and children, while hubs have sufficient childcare availability and deserts do not.[4]

Map of childcare deserts in INKey to childcare desert map

[5]

Both secondary and postsecondary institutions could use Carl D. Perkins (Partner Program) funds to expand the Child Development Associate programs, increasing the talent pipeline for future providers. This will help build capacity and availability of quality childcare providers throughout rural Indiana. Additionally, because these programs require students to do a practicum, they could offer childcare options at a lower rate. Other types of innovative funding through the Child Care and Development Fund (Federal Program) and On My Way Pre-K (State Program), such as premium payments for evening and weekend childcare or scaling childcare options at WorkOnes, community colleges, libraries, and employers, could offer our workforce regions options to examine in their local plans. Title I could also offer stipends to cover childcare costs, while Hoosiers participate in workforce trainings or education programs.

Title III-Wagner-Peyser (Core Program): Business services in WorkOnes and Local Economic Development Organizations are essential to the long-term success of these regions. Increasing the communication and partnerships between the Local Economic Development Official and current businesses to better understand current business’ needs can assist with identifying job openings, emerging industries and companies, and any skills gaps that need to be addressed in secondary, postsecondary, or adult education programs. Developing our rural talent is critical to boosting our economy in these swaths of the state. Increasing educational attainment is key with the following strategies complementing these efforts:

  1. Tapping “hidden talent” pools in rural areas, including older workers, non-native English speakers, and those with criminal records.
  2. Increasing immigration and in-migration to rural areas includes efforts to recruit urban dwellers interested in living in a rural area and marketing their regions as great places to live. In addition, more engagement is occurring with immigrant populations to help community relations and entice more immigration into those regions.
  3. More rural businesses, school districts, and workforce development organizations are partnering to engage high school students in new ways that showcase the opportunities available to them in their regions, and in some cases, implementing trainings into curricula and providing jobs right after graduation.
     
    Similar to our other target populations, this program can serve as the resource to fund career counseling (either in person or virtually), labor exchange services, and assistance for job searches and placement. This can also offer business services to employers, employer associations, or other such organizations on employment-related attraction and retention, especially related to quality of life and earning potential in rural areas. Wagner-Peyser staff can also assist with coordinating labor unions, businesses, associations, and the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship to support and develop work-based learning and registered apprenticeship opportunities.
     
    Carl D. Perkins (Partner Program): Through our CTE Redesign efforts under Perkins, we intend to improve the postsecondary attainment of rural students while they are in high school, providing them with greater opportunities for future economic mobility and personal fulfillment. Our K-12 and postsecondary institutions should be supported in working to design clear, structured academic and career pathways for students—pathways that explicitly lead and/or transfer to careers providing family-supporting wages.
     
    One development we plan to implement widely in our rural schools and CTE districts is an Entrepreneurship Capstone course. This will encourage and support the next generation of entrepreneurs to build individual capacity and support new business creation. Our rural CTE districts and community colleges implementing career-technical education programs must link education with future careers, especially in growing industries, such as healthcare and IT, and advanced industries (agricultural biosciences, aircraft and aerospace, automotive/mobility, and logistics).
     
    In rural regions, specifically, our K-12 schools and community colleges campuses must focus dual enrollment and credit opportunities and other efforts on the student populations that are less likely to be college-bound, which greatly overlap with our At-Risk and other target populations. This will create a more equitable system that does not let a person’s life circumstances or obstacles dictate his/her opportunity to succeed, as well as taps into these students’ potential to earn a postsecondary credential as a key economic development strategy for our rural counties. Increasing postsecondary access for all rural students will help both attract and retain talent in these areas. This may require a mindset shift among rural Hoosiers around the growing necessity of higher learning to find personal and economic success. Through Indiana’s communications strategy, we seek to target high school students, in particular, with information regarding the long-term benefits of all types of higher education. As our CTE programs of study are redesigned to embed consistently aligned dual credit or enrollment courses in secondary CTE ones, we hope this begins to increase the postsecondary attainment in rural areas. This will require intentionality and counseling from our community stakeholders, though, to ensure the success and sustainability of these efforts.
     
    The redesigned programs of study (or career pathways under WIOA) will facilitate the extension of postsecondary pathways into high schools through intensive collaboration between community colleges with K–12 systems. In addition to expanding access to postsecondary, this may also reduce the need for remediation as rural students enter various postsecondary programs. Reducing remediation conversely increases students’ completion rates. Concurrently, there must be clearly articulated and consistently implemented university transfer pathways that students can navigate without loss of credits. For those rural students that earn their associate degree, their program credits will be applicable to the transfer major at a university.
     
    Advising (including both academic and career planning) in high schools and colleges should provide prospective and current students with data-informed scenarios about career pathways, opportunities for employment in specific fields, projected earnings (at entry level and beyond), and the levels of educational attainment associated with high employment and high wages. Perkins can help fund this activity and professional growth in both secondary and postsecondary, using local Workforce Development Board staff to help fill any gaps. In middle and high schools, expansion of the work-based learning continuum to include career engagement, exploration, and experiences, career guidance, and employability development will help prioritize these issues in the K-12 environment. Indiana’s Local Career Coaching Grants may be utilized in tandem with Perkins and other federal funding sources (such as Title IV under the Every Student Succeeds Act and WIOA Title III) as a means to expand this type of advising to more students.
     
    Some Indiana districts have strong partnerships with either Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University to provide career or colleges success coaches on-site in high schools. Vincennes University receives $3 million in state funding for expansion of its early college model. This model innovatively puts students, particularly those facing barriers, on the track to enroll in some form of postsecondary education. As we endeavor to increase co-location, we want to see these types of partnerships between our K-12 districts and postsecondary institutions also increase. Perkins funds could assist with establishing secondary-postsecondary partnerships, as our educational institutions seek to pool their Perkins resources together. Through co-location, secondary and postsecondary programs can combined funds to update facilities and equipment regularly. Perkins can help expand access to postsecondary success coaches. Parke Heritage High School, a rural school in Rockville, Indiana, is an example of this type of partnership with an Ivy Tech representative embedded in its guidance department. This has assisted students, teachers, and guidance counselors in completing aligned sequences of dual credit courses and raising postsecondary attainment and completion while a student earns a high school diploma. While this is one type of co-location option, similar to the various types of co-location described above, Workforce Development Boards can assist schools and postsecondary partners in determining which approach may work best for the local context, using Perkins as a resource to help execute this strategy.
     
    Apprenticeships (State and Federal Programs): Scaling access to state and federal apprenticeship programs will provide a way for rural students to earn postsecondary credentials as they earn an income. Pre- and youth apprenticeship programs can aim to define clear career paths, help students choose the best track for them, and prepare them to secure and succeed in full-time employment. A recent report by the USDA Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity cited a particular need for such apprenticeship programs in healthcare and skilled trades.[6] WIOA funding can subsidize a share of apprentices’ wages or promote apprenticeship to employers and potential apprentices. Focusing Core Programs on driving rural apprenticeship providers can skill up the local workforce and be used to increase vital services in the community. Non-traditional apprenticeships in healthcare, financial services, early childhood care and education, insurance, or IT can turn into State Earn and Learns (SEALs), which can also use WIOA funding to subsidize wages. Rural apprenticeships in the IT space can create platform support for large companies, allowing Hoosiers to remain in their communities and earn middle- to high-wages.
     
    Through these apprenticeships, we can increase access to services that improve rural Hoosiers’ quality of life, such as healthcare and childcare. Local government and employers could partner to drive efforts in building out both state and federal apprenticeship opportunities to develop credentialing and training programs through “grow your own” pipelines to promote job growth and economic development.

Rural communities need not rely entirely on existing employers to build up apprenticeship opportunities. Virtual apprenticeships may be an option for rural areas. Some jobs that offer family-sustaining wages can be learned and done remotely. Health information management fields, for example, incorporate related technical instruction that can be done through online classes. Employers who need to fill positions with the possibility of remote work should think about tapping the talent pool in rural areas by training Hoosiers through virtual apprenticeships. Growing this sort of distance apprenticeship program could allow rural Hoosiers who want to earn more for themselves and their families the opportunity to do so, while staying rooted in their home community.

Potential Eligibility: Additional services or co-enrollment rural Hoosiers may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program ActivitiesandIndividual Services.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) (Partner Program): The Brookings Institution has determined that the effects of trade displacement is most intense in smaller communities in the Midwest and South. This coupled with their find that Indiana is the most at-risk state to feel the effects of automation, our rural communities will feel the economic effects of automation primarily and prominently.[7]

Map of trade displacement felt most intensely in Midwest and South

 

TAA, in tandem with WIOA Dislocated Worker, may provide crucial workforce development dollars as rural Indiana is affected by the effects of the changing economy. Currently, TAA only provides funds for those are adversely affected by foreign trade. Adverse effects to workers generally occur through increased import competition or offshore outsourcing. Through Indiana’s waiver, we intend to apply this program to Indiana workers who are displaced due to automation, as well, given the state’s high likelihood of impact. Through our waiver, we can expand the use of TAA, especially in our rural communities. Studies have found that most displaced workers rely more on Social Security and disability benefits, rather than the retraining resources provided by TAA.[8] Expanding TAA to include the effects of automation will provide rural workers and communities with the resources to help them get back on their feet.

Co-enrollment of rural Hoosiers covered by TAA in partnership with the WIOA Dislocated Worker or Adult program can both expand and improve the overall effectiveness of these programs in some of our hardest to serve counties: TAA can assist with income support and other employment services, with WIOA Dislocated serving as a gap filler for any training or wraparound support costs. In addition to funding training, TAA participants can utilize WIOA Dislocated Worker to also provide supportive services relating to childcare, transportation, dependent care, and housing assistance. TAA can also provide assistance in the form of access to case management and employment services, income support, job search allowances, relocation allowances, wage supplements, and a health coverage tax credit. Additionally, TAA can help reimburse employers for on-the-job training costs, with up to 50% covering wages.

TAA effortsin rural areas, specifically, should be more comprehensiveDesignation of eligibility for help could be applied more broadly to include whole regions feeling effects of trade displacement or automation. Region-focused initiatives may offer a model for delivering multidimensional packages of services that engage a Core, Partner, other federal, state, and philanthropic programs for a comprehensive approach. Through TAA, we can make our efforts more proactive, rather than reactive. While we have effective Rapid Response programs through WIOA Dislocated Worker, we can continue to push our programs to be more anticipatory and offer support when disruption is forecasted for both TAA certified companies and others about to displace workers. Proactive efforts could maximize the opportunities for worker retraining and job search prior to a crisis. Expansion of TAA to include automation in tandem with co-enrollment will help Indiana maximize our investments and transition our dislocated workers. Through this braided approach, we can also take part of the financial burden off of the employer and our WorkOnes to help reskill our dislocated workers, thus providing greater incentive to engage with this target population.

In light of the recent changes to the Wagner-Peyser regulations that permits states to have increased staffing flexibility, Indiana will evaluate potential changes to staffing models and the state merit requirement over the next fiscal year. The Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, in conjunction with DWD, will monitor the potential for new TAA regulations and will conduct similar a similar evaluation of staff models with accordance with any finalized new stipulations or flexibility.

Title I-Youth (Core Program): These funds can support either in-school or out-of-school eligible youth in rural areas.Funding through either WIOA Adult or Dislocated Worker or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act can assist with instructional supports for these Hoosiers, including resources for academic and technical education. Learners from rural communities are less likely to go to college. In 2017, 22% of Indiana's high school graduates came from high schools located in rural counties, and over half (59%) of rural high school graduates enrolled in college within one year of graduating high school. This is lower than the statewide average (63%) and the percentage of non-rural high school graduates (64%). The gap in college going rates among rural and non-rural student populations has remained consistent over the last five years.[9]

 

College-going rates of high school

This lag in educational attainment between rural students and their non-rural peers will have long-term economic ripples in both the individuals’ and communities’ earning potential and power. WIOA Youth, though, can be utilized to buttress dual enrollment or credit programs for students. The activities can include dual enrollment orientation, tutoring and academic assistance, completion of college and financial aid applications, early assessment of academic readiness for postsecondary education, appropriate skill-building classes (or intensive workshops), academic and career planning, college visits or talent tours with employers, and enrollment in courses for the first semester at the college.

These funds could supplement Perkins in building out CTE programs of study that specifically recruit and retain at-risk youth. This can support at-risk students in rural communities earn postsecondary credentials – including dual credits and certifications – before they graduate high school, helping them start their lives after high school with higher learning and credentials already in their portfolios. As well, through programs like JAG, WIOA Youth could assist students navigating the various and flexible options for postsecondary education – from federal and state financial aid (Pell Grants, Frank O’Bannon, and 21st Century Scholars) that focus on two- and four-year degree programs to financial aid that focuses on technical certifications (Workforce Ready Grants).

Encouraging rural students to file the FAFSA and pursue federal and state financial aid could assist in postsecondary enrollment rates. Rural 21st Century Scholars were more than twice as likely to go to college as rural low-income non-Scholars. The Scholars Program may be a helpful tool in closing gaps between rural and non-rural higher education attainment.

College-going rates by rural/non-rural locale and socioeconomic status

[10]

For out-of-school youth lacking a high school diploma, WIOA Youth could help supplement WIOA Title II funds to have students enrolled in Adult Education concurrently with postsecondary programs, paid for by Pell Grants through Ability to Benefit. AtB allows students who are concurrently enrolled in connected AE and eligible postsecondary programs, but do not have a high school diploma or equivalent, could be Pell eligible.

WIOA Youth can also prioritize the following wraparound supports to help students complete both secondary and postsecondary education (contingent upon local context):

  1. Paid and unpaid work experiences, which include: summer and year round employment opportunities, pre-apprenticeship programs, internships and job shadowing, and on-the-job training;
  2. Occupational skill training;
  3. Leadership development opportunities;
  4. Mentoring;
  5. Follow-up services;
  6. Comprehensive guidance and counseling; and
  7. Financial literacy education.

Title IV – Vocational Rehabilitation (Core Program): For rural individuals with a physical or mental disability that constitutes or results in a substantial barrier to employment, s/he may qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. Similar to other target populations, depending on the need of a rural Hoosier, the WorkOne can supply the programming and funding for this individual’s education and training, with VR serving as the source for any accommodations or auxiliary supports for training, as well as helping with any funding gaps for other additional wraparound supports. In particular for rural populations, VR can help support funding transportation to trainings, as well as lodging if the training requires overnight travel. VR can also help with childcare costs, if that is a prohibitive barrier. As each Hoosier’s package of services can be tailored to his/her needs, VR can plug any holes of service that may be needed.

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement these practices through strategic use of WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. Where applicable, local Boards or community organizations can coordinate with state agencies to apply for SNAP 50/50 FNS, which will serve as a 50% federal match for any state or philanthropic funding dedicated to SNAP recipients receiving Employment and Training services. These practices are Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, the practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our rural population in surmounting their unique circumstances.

Next Level Connections (State Program): This is part of Governor Holcomb’s broader infrastructure program to improve connections for all Hoosiers regardless of where they live, work and play. There are several components of this initiative that apply directly to our rural areas:

  • Broadband: This program increases the availability of core internet services to allow more rural customers to access from home, thus lessening the need for smaller access points. A Purdue University study found that Indiana would receive about $12 billion in net benefits if the broadband investment were made statewide over 20 years with full deployment of broadband into rural areas.[11] Expanding broad to our rural communities will yield economic benefits and improve quality of life. This initiative includes $100 million investment to bring affordable high-speed fiber optic broadband access to unserved and underserved areas of the state and grants for providers to bring broadband services with a minimum of a minimum of 10Mbps for downloads and 1Mbps for uploads to areas of the state lacking service.

Indiana also encourages broadband development in rural areas by certifying communities as broadband ready. The Broadband Ready Community (State Program) certification sends a signal to the telecommunication industry that a community has taken steps to reduce barriers to broadband infrastructure investment. While investment in broadband infrastructure is not guaranteed to follow once a community obtains the certification, reducing the regulatory hurdles that deter investment is a key step towards creating an environment ripe for broadband investment.

While this initiative focuses primarily on investing in broadband infrastructure, there are two additional pieces Indiana can expand upon in this program:

  1. Encouraging rural SNAP recipients to apply for the Lifeline Program (Federal Program) through the Federal Communications Commission for broadband discounts (both Comcast and AT&T offer discounts for SNAP recipients, though this can support desktops rather than hand-held devices). Both WorkOnes and Division of Family Resources can raise awareness for this program for eligible Hoosiers;
  2. Partnering with Adult Education providers to develop and upskill technicians, as well as rural schools and CTE centers with computer networking programs. These programs can foster a workforce to fill jobs related to broadband infrastructure and management. These efforts can also complement coordinated efforts between towns and schools to boost community broadband;
  3. Leveraging WIOA Titles I and II to create greater digital literacy for our rural Hoosiers – both individuals and businesses. The value of broadband is not realized unless an individual can use the infrastructure. As we expand broadband into our rural areas, these efforts must be accompanied with strategies to grow digital literacy in our rural populations so they can take advantage of this technology to grow their skills and economic opportunities.
     
  • Trails: As part of Indiana’s goal to improve Hoosiers’ quality of life, thus facilitating the attraction and retention of talent, we are investing $90 million to connect more Hoosiers to hiking, biking, and riding trails. The majority of funding will be used to create a grant program for local and regional trails, with emphasis on connections between cities, towns, and counties and connections between existing trails, shovel-ready projects, and those that are part of a regional plan or quality of place initiative. One benefit of this initiative is the installation of fiber optics, utilities, or sewers. Indiana currently has about 3,600 total miles of trails, including local, state, federal, and nonprofit trails that are open to the public. The state’s goal is to provide a trail within five miles of every Hoosier by 2020.
     
  • Road construction: Because roads are a vital part of the rural-urban connection and access, this initiative will have both economic and quality of life benefits. Indiana has invested $600 million to accelerate the completion of I-69 Section 6, and $190 million for improvements to U.S. 20 and 30 and new interchanges on U.S. 31. This also includes road resurfacing, bridge improvements, and new interchanges.

E-RATE (Federal Program): Through the federal E-RATE program, nearly every school in Indiana has broadband.[12] K-12 schools throughout the state have high levels of internet connectivity.

IN school tech plan district broadban levels

[13]

In addition to those funds provided through E-RATE, Indiana appropriates $5 million in the state budget to backfill expenses for both libraries and schools. As well, many schools, in particular high schools, have a one-to-one ratio for devices and students.

IN school tech plan - district 1:1 status

[14]

Hoosier students are able to access technology and broadband while at school or a public library, but there is less connectivity while at home. This can create instructional barriers for homework, research projects, or other academic needs when away from school.

Local Workforce Development Boards could work with schools and libraries to leverage E-RATE by increasing co-location efforts with these two hubs of activities. Libraries have already started to morph into rural community centers, as many people rely on this resource to file Unemployment Insurance claims, conduct job searches, and participate in telemedicine.

IN school tech plan - away from school acces initiatives

[15]

As Indiana finds creative ways to embed staff, create mobile or temporary WorkOnes, or even formal physical co-location, schools and libraries offer the benefit of providing access to both youth and adults, as well as consistent broadband. Through regional partnerships, our Boards could find ways to increase these types of partnerships and find ways to leverage the existing resource they offer to rural Hoosiers.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act – Title V (Federal Program): Title V: Rural and Low-income Schools Program (RLIS) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), provides rural districts with additional financial assistance for initiatives aimed at improving student achievement. Indiana receives approximately $1.58 million through this RLIS program, as well as $469,000 through the Small, Rural School Achievement Program.[16] The grant is administered formulaically through the Indiana Department of Education. As outlined in Indiana’s ESSA Plan, these funds are currently used in the following ways:

    • Teacher recruitment and retention;
    • Professional development for educators, including training on the effective use of technology;
    • Support for educational technology and technology designed to improve instruction for students with disabilities;
    • Parent involvement activities;
    • Title I-approved activities to improve instruction for students in poverty; and
    • Improving instruction for English learners.[17]

Because schools play central social, institutional, and economic roles in rural communities, this funding could be leveraged to boost the educational attainment of both children and adults through Core and Partner Programs under the Combined Plan. Through increased partnerships and co-location, schools could serve as a fulcrum for access to talent development programs in rural areas. This funding could help expand educational services and opportunities through new learning platforms that go across systems (e.g., dual enrollment and credit, shared learning management systems, and skill-based credentialing systems). It could supplement other funding sources, such as Perkins or WIOA Title II, to expand Integrated Education and Technical programs for children and adults. Through co-location, these funds could support career pathways to reconnect rural schools to their local communities and regional economic development offices. It can also promote active, participatory, and cooperative learning around real-world problems in rural schools.

Individual services for rural youth can also be supported through this funding. Some students come to school with significant nonacademic challenges that may interfere with their ability to learn. Such problems can include health and dental issues, social or emotional problems, low levels of parent education or involvement, or lack of before-and after-school opportunities. ESEA Title V could offer wraparound services, including physical and mental health care, adult literacy classes for parents, and out-of-school time programming, that address students’ nonacademic needs and connect their services to classroom activities so that student achievement in our rural schools improves. Similar to other ESSA programs, local Workforce Development Boards can collaborate with school districts to determine how this funding could serve as an early intervention so students and families in rural Indiana are placed on the paths to personal and economic success.

Rural Early College Network (Philanthropic Program): The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis is establishing a Rural Early College Network (RECN) through a federal Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. The RECN will help rural Indiana schools more quickly implement the Early College high school model. Early College high schools target underserved students and allow them to earn both high school diplomas and up to two years of credits toward bachelor’s or associate degrees through rigorous dual credit classes supported by wrap-around services. The project will offer rural students, many of whom are first-generation college students, opportunities to take rigorous college-level classes while in high school in supportive environments that help ensure their success. Another anticipated outcome is the establishment of model rural Early College high school sites and a template for fostering additional high-quality Early College programs serving even more students throughout Indiana. Partnerships with local businesses will help update curricula, develop work-based learning experiences, and incorporate Work Ethics Certificate requirements. The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis provides leadership that is both cutting-edge and action-oriented. CELL currently has a network of 90 high schools across the state trained in the Early College model and in varying degrees of implementation.

Main Street Revitalization Program (State Program): The Indiana Main Street program is focused on helping communities revitalize their economy, appearance, and overall quality of life in their downtown commercial districts using the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach. This approach incorporates strategies that revolve around the four points of Design, Organization, Promotion, and Economic Vitality. It utilizes a comprehensive, incremental approach to revitalization built around a community’s unique heritage and attributes. Leveraging these assets helps communities develop a stronger quality of life and sense of place attachment that contributes to attracting and retaining population, which ultimately influences workforce and job creation in the area. The program provides access to information, guidance to individuals and organizations interested in downtown revitalization, and incentives to stimulate long-term economic growth and pride in the heart of communities. Supporting programs include:

  • Main Street Revitalization Program: The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) created this grant to assist Indiana's rural residents in their endeavors to create successful, sustainable communities and improve local quality of life. The goal of this grant is to encourage communities to focus on long-term community development efforts. This can take the form of business creation, increased tourism, historic preservation, and other economic revitalization efforts. A maximum grant award of $600,000 is in effect for all Main Street Revitalization Projects (MSRPs). General types of activities that are eligible for MSRP funding include updating streetscapes, façade renovations, and downtown infrastructure rehabilitation.
  • Downtown Development Week: During the first week of October, OCRA invites all Indiana towns and cities to celebrate their downtowns. During this week, OCRA challenges partners to celebrate their downtowns by sponsoring events, activities, festivals, parades, business promotions, restaurant deals, or a combination of a few activities to highlight the best of their downtowns. To help with DDW, OCRA awards five promotion grants to communities to support DDW-related activities.
  • IMPACT: In November of 2018, OCRA was awarded a $100,000 grant from USDA Rural Development to create the IMPACT Main Street Program. The Program’s goal is to strengthen and protect existing businesses, contribute to expansions and create job opportunities. The Indiana Communities Institute provided the following to each of the nine Main Street organizations:
  • Compile and analyze community data on market strengths and weaknesses to help identify new businesses; 
  • Provide technical assistance on emerging trends and best practices around implementation of local business attraction and support activities; and 
  • Aid in the design, marketing and launch of a business investment strategy to foster new business activity.

Transformational Strategies: With support from OCRA, the National Main Street Center worked with seven communities between 2018 and 2019. It will pursue eight new communities between 2020 and 2021 to assist in identifying transformational strategies and assess the current work plan and its alignment with the transformational strategies. It will offer recommendations for new projects and activities based on these strategies that align with selected strategies.

[1] US Census Bureau, 2018. Defining Rural at the U.S. Census Bureau.

[2] Social Policy Research Associates, 2018. An Institutional Analysis of American Job Centers: AJC Service Delivery in Rural Areas.

[3] Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 2018. College Return on Investment Report 2018.

[4] INcontext, January-February 2019. Child care deserts.

[5] Early Learning Indiana, 2019. Deserts & Hubs: Child Care Access across Indiana – An ELI Story Map.

[6] US Department of Agriculture, 2017. Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.

[7] Parilla and Muro, 2016. Where global trade has the biggest impact on workers.

[8] Autor, et al., 2014. Trade Adjustment: Worker-Level Evidence.

[9] Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 2019. College Equity Report 2019.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Grant, et al., 2018. Research & Policy INsights: Estimation of the Net Benefits of Indiana Statewide Adoption of Rural Broadband.

[12] Education Super Highway, 2019. State Progress: Indiana.

[13] Indiana Department of Education, 2019. 2019 Tech Plan Data.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] US Department of Education. Funds for State Formula-Allocated and Selected Student Aid Programs: Indiana.

[17] Indiana Department of Education, 2019. Amendment to Indiana’s Consolidated State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

 

There is no universal definition of the terms “vulnerable” or “at-risk” youth. Both terms have been used to denote youth who experience emotional and adjustment problems, are at risk of dropping out, or lack the skills to succeed after graduation. They have also been used to suggest that the individual grew up in unstable family or community environments. Additionally, there is no singular overarching policy or program to assist at-risk youth. Federal programs for this target population are piecemealed together across multiple acts and laws, oftentimes operating in isolation from others (e.g., vocational, educational, social services, juvenile justice and delinquency prevention, and health). Because many different federal programs address the barriers of at-risk youth, integrating these programs becomes exponentially harder at the state and local levels. If we can denote strategies to braid distinct funding streams together for at-risk youth in Indiana, we could develop a comprehensive system of early interventions that could prevent more future Hoosiers from relying on government assistance.

A simplified definition proposed by the federal government to understand this population is “vulnerable youth have characteristics and experiences that put them at risk of developing problem behaviors and outcomes that have the potential to hurt their community, themselves, or both.” At-risk does not necessarily mean a youth has already experienced negative outcomes but suggests that negative outcomes are more likely in his/her futures.[1] At-risk youth may experience adverse economic and social outcomes as they enter adulthood. For Indiana’s Combined Plan, we have delineated the following subgroups within our at-risk in-school (ages 14 to 22) and out-of-school (ages 16 to 24) youth populations:

  • Low-income youth,
  • Current or former foster youth,
  • Homeless youth,
  • English Learners,
  • Youth deficient in basic skills,
  • Juvenile offenders,
  • Pregnant and parenting youth, and
  • Youth with disabilities.

Though not all at-risk youth experience negative outcomes, there are specific factors that can lead to a child becoming an at-risk youth as they transition into adulthood, increasing the probability of negative future outcomes. These factors include:

  • Poverty: Poverty is linked to a number of potential future problems among youth, including chronic health conditions, low educational attainment, and engagement in delinquent behaviors.
  • Family Instability and Dysfunction: Children who grow up in two-parent families tend to have better health outcomes and more positive behaviors. Additionally, two types of family dysfunction are particularly detrimental to the future well-being of children: witnessing violence against their mothers, substance abuse in families and communities, and criminal activity among their family members.
  • Child Maltreatment: Abuse and neglect by their parents or other caretakers puts children at risk for many negative outcomes, including poor physical and mental health, lower cognitive functioning and educational attainment, and poor social development and behavior.
  • Exposure to Violence in the Community: Witnessing violence in a community is linked to several negative outcomes such as depression, aggressive behavior, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, psychological trauma, and antisocial behavior.
  • School Resources and Community Environment: Schools with fewer resources are associated with poor academic outcomes, and schools can create environments with problematic social issues such as bullying and behavioral problems. Children who live in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty experience exacerbated obstacles of being poor, such as higher crime rates, underperforming schools, poor health outcomes, and substandard housing options.
  • Residential Mobility: Children who move frequently may experience negative outcomes, such as lower academic performance, high rates of school dropout, and emotional and behavioral problems.
  • Minority Status: Children who are historically underrepresented minorities, specifically Black and Latino, are more likely to live in high-poverty neighborhoods and to attend lower-performing schools, compared to White youth. Youth with parents who have immigration issues are also considered to be at-risk. Further, racial bias can hinder job opportunities for youth (the Historically Underrepresented Minorities section discusses this further).[2]

Among the eight groups listed above, some lack financial assistance and emotional support from their families. Other at-risk youth have difficulty securing postsecondary education or employment opportunities or may have depended on public systems of support and may lose needed assistance at age 18. Regardless of their specific risk factor(s), groups of vulnerable youth share many of the same barriers to successfully transitioning into adulthood, earning a postsecondary credential or degree, and securing family-sustaining wages. Within these groups, however, the subgroups are highly diverse; youth in these groups represent diverse socioeconomic and racial backgrounds and may be members of multiple at-risk populations.

The National Survey of High School Strategies Designed to Help At-Risk Student Graduate highlighted 13 high school strategies designed to improve graduation rates among those students at risk of dropping out. These 13 strategies will be interweaved throughout the sections for each subgroup:

  1. Academic support classes,
  2. Academic tutoring,
  3. Career-themed curriculum,
  4. Case management services,
  5. College-level coursework,
  6. Competency-based advancement,
  7. Credit recovery,
  8. Early warning systems,
  9. High school transition activities,
  10. Mentoring,
  11. Personalized learning plans,
  12. Social services, and
  13. Student support teams.[3]

Two pre-high school strategies we want to increase Indiana’s focus on are early learning and career awareness. Both of these strategies will occur with younger children in our school system and greatly influence the success of those strategies above for our at-risk youth in the secondary and postsecondary space. These strategies are not directly funded by WIOA, but coordination between schools, local Workforce Development Boards, employers, and government agencies will increase the proliferation of both strategies throughout Indiana. Because of the achievement gaps that exist for our low-income students, students with disabilities, and students of color, we advocate that these strategies target these student subgroups most profoundly. As described throughout the At-Risk Youth sections, the various actors in the talent development system can braid the various federal, state, and philanthropic funds to implement these strategies prior to secondary school.

High-quality early learning programs are a key strategy to help to narrow achievement gaps between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers. While all children benefit by participating in high-quality early learning programs, the achievement gains are largest for children from low-income families.[4] Early childhood education serves as an early intervention that improves children’s cognitive and socioemotional functions. Additionally, the achievement gap between at-risk children and their affluent peers begins at birth, persists throughout K-12, and has lifelong negative consequences, unless it is addressed early in a child’s life. Quality early learning helps address these early gaps for at-risk children and ensures they are ready to start school at the same level as their peers. A National Center for Education Statistics longitudinal study shows that children who attended preschool programs entered kindergarten with higher scores and greater readiness in math, reading, cognitive flexibility, and for approaches to learning (e.g., attentiveness, persistence, and eagerness to learn) than their peers who did not participate in an early learning program.[5]

Over the next two years, Indiana will examine the structure of its programs and agencies. One development we endeavor to implement is to expand our K-12 system as the PreK-12 system. Throughout Indiana, school districts and local communities have recognized the connection and importance of early learning and Pre-K with kindergarten and school readiness. Over 20,000 Hoosier students are enrolled in Pre-K through their school districts, illustrating that many of our districts have already made the transition from K-12 to PreK-12. One of our roles over the next two years is to further support and replicate those local communities’ early learning practices. Prekindergarten programs offer the most promise for increasing children’s school readiness and ensuring students begin their academic career on the right track.[6] To prevent Hoosiers from needing some of the interventions aimed at assisting at-risk youth students described throughout the Plan, this redesigned system, accompanied with additional coordinated investments, can help ensure those predisposed to be an at-risk youth never fulfill that label.

Similar to the talent development system, early learning in Indiana has multiple funding streams that must be coordinated and braided together in order to scale high-quality programs. In addition to federal funds (e.g., Child Care and Development Block Grant, Early Head Start, and Head Start) and state funds (e.g., On My Way Pre-K), local school districts can also use ESEA Title I to provide preschool programs to improve educational outcomes for low-income children. Children who fall under the At-Risk Youth subcategories are often eligible for these programs, as they are often at risk of failing to meet a state’s challenging academic standards when they enter elementary school. These specific funds are available to support the early learners who are homeless, in foster care, from migrant families, and English Learners. Indiana can braid the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to fund prekindergarten programs serving children with disabilities. These populations of students often need the support that high-quality early learning programs may provide to level the playing field and address opportunity gaps between them and their peers.[7] By integrating the various funding streams as postulated in Goal 2 of the Plan, Indiana can create both horizontal and vertical alignment across our PreK-12 system. Horizontally, this will create the consistency and professional standards across programs and settings that serve a particular age or grade. Vertically, this integration addresses the progressive development of standards from birth through third grade and beyond that provide a continuum for children’s knowledge and skills.

As discussed for our other target populations, creating more awareness of the diversity of postsecondary options for at-risk youth. Career awareness is critical to ensuring their longitudinal success in our talent system. Students must obtain a deeper understanding of career opportunities and the pathways to those careers early in their academic careers. Research has shown that students are overwhelmed with the vast number of options available to them. As an early intervention, focusing on greater career exploration, engagement, and experiences will allow students to connect their K-12 education with postsecondary aspirations. To help Hoosier students understand the myriad of graduation pathway options that best fit their postsecondary goals, we encourage schools and local Workforce Development Boards to expand the work-based learning continuum throughout K-12. This will require coordinated efforts to have students:

  • Engage in career awareness activities in grades K-5 to connect their learning with careers;
  • Explore a future that fits their skills and interests in grades 6-8 to prevent disengagement in education; and
  • Experience postsecondary options through real-world application of knowledge and skills in grades 9-12.
     
    The Work-Based Learning Continuum is the set of primary through postsecondary work-based learning experiences that progress in specificity and employer involvement including: Career Awareness, Career Exploration, Career Preparation, and Career Training. Schools and Boards can use this continuum and chart to better understand how to structure student experiences and to communicate clearly defined experiences to prospective employer partners. Additionally, ESEA Titles I or IV could be directed toward these experiences for at-risk students throughout K-12, with WIOA funds supplementing activities in high school. The Work-Based Learning Continuum encompasses:
     Work-based learning continuum
     
    In the Department of Education Work-Based Learning Manual, activities aligned to the Work-Based Learning Continuum for every grade are outlined. These activities must contain actual experiences and connections at businesses or hearing form the business community. They allow students to explore various options and see how their education and interests align with different careers. Some of these activities include:Work-based learning continuum with activities[8]

 

For In-School At-Risk Youth, there are three primary funding streams through which supports and resource at provided: Title I of WIOA and Titles I and IV of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Title I of WIOA includes funding streams for adults, dislocated workers, and youth. WIOA Youth funding is specifically intended to provide comprehensive interventions that “support the attainment of a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent, entry into postsecondary education, and career readiness for participants.”[9] This is the main source of youth funding within the workforce development policies. These funds serve at-risk youth who face barriers to continued education and employment both in and out-of-school. As WIOA Title I- Out-Of-School Youth is covered deeply in the Low-Income section, as well as referenced as a potential co-enrollment option for those in other target populations and meet the eligibility requirements, the subgroup sections below are specifically regarding in-school youth. This is individuals aged 14-21 who are enrolled in either secondary or postsecondary education and require additional assistance to earn a credential or degree and secure employment. Services provided depend on the specific service strategy customized to each youth’s needs. Local areas are required to make available specified youth program elements, including dropout prevention and recovery, connections between academic and occupational learning, paid and unpaid work experience with academic and occupational education components, technical training for a specific career pathway, career counseling, and preparation for postsecondary education and training. All of the subgroups in the sections below may qualify for these program elements; intentionality and differentiation regarding specific services will be delineated to address the particular subgroup’s potential barriers.

Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)(reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act) (Federal Program) provides most of the funding for programs that serve disadvantaged youth in school. Title I, Part A: Local Educational Agency Grants is the largest federal elementary and secondary education program that supplements educational services to students attending pre-kindergarten through grade 12 schools with relatively high concentrations of students from low-income families. Title I, Part D: Neglected, Delinquent, or At Risk Children and Youth gives funding to states and districts to meet the special educational needs of youth in institutions and correctional facilities for neglected and delinquent youth, as well as youth at risk of dropping out. Title I, Part A will receive $255 million for FY 2020; Title I, Part D, on the other hand, will receive only $673,000. Because Title I, Part A has the majority of federal K-12 funding and has wide application, locals could explore ways to braid these funds into activities for dropout prevention, academic supports, and wraparound services. To help implement the above strategies for at-risk students writ large, local Workforce Development Boards can partner with school districts in their regions regarding ways Title I, Part A could serve as supplementary funds.

ESEA Title IV, Part A: Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants and Part B: 21st Century Community Learning Centers provides funding to districts for academic and other supportive programs. The purpose of these programs is to provide opportunities for academic enrichment, offer students a broad array of additional services, and offer families opportunities for active and meaningful engagement with their children’s education. At the local level, schools may use this funding stream in tandem with other funds through ESEA, like Titles I and IV, to support specific interventions, activities, or services.

Additionally, Title I, Part A of the ESEA may be used to promote supportive school climates to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline practices in a Title I schoolwide program. Because at-risk students may need assistance with accessing mental health services, ESEA Title IV can supplement instructional support for schoolwide social-emotional learning programs and school counselors. Social-emotional learning programs can improve the social skills and academic achievement of at-risk students and can improve school climate by reducing violence, bullying, and other conduct problems. Title IV can also support mental health counseling and academic guidance roles, either separated or combined into one position. Additional activities locals can support with these funds include:

Overview of exampels of allowable SSAE uses of funds

[10]

As many of the above strategies overlap with ways to support at-risk students, this funding stream offers another opportunity for local Boards and districts to partner to find ways for programs to work jointly.

[1] Congressional Research Service, 2018. Vulnerable Youth: Background and Policies.

[2] Mathematica Public Research et al., 2011. Synthesis of Research and Resources to Support at- Risk Youth.

[3] US Department of Education, 2017. National Survey on High School Strategies Designed to Help At-Risk Students Graduate.

[4] Hirokazu et al., 2013. Investing in our Future: The Evidence Base for Preschool Education.

[5] Rathbun et al., 2016. Primary Early Care and Education Arrangements and Achievement at Kindergarten Entry.

[6] Brookings Institutions, 2012. Starting School at a Disadvantage: School Readiness of Poor Children.

[7] US Department of Education, 2016. Non-Regulatory Guidance Early Learning in the Every Student Succeeds Act: Expanding Opportunities to Support our Youngest Learners.

[8] Indiana Department of Education. Indiana K-12 Work-Based Learning Manual.

[9] WIOA, Sec. 129(c)(2).

[10] U.S. Department of Education, 2016. Non-Regulatory Guidance: Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants.

 

In K-12 education, student status of free and reduced-price lunch (FRPL) status has been a proxy measure for student poverty and the basis for allocating resources to schools based on income. Students’ families at 185% of the federal poverty guidelines receive reduced-price meals; students at 130% of the federal poverty guidelines receive free meals. Both denotations aggregate students under the low-income subgroup.[1]

Low-income students traditionally fall under this subgroup because students from lower specific socioeconomic backgrounds have had historical gaps in academic proficiency and are five times more likely to drop out of school than students from higher income families.[2] In Indiana, students with free and reduced-price lunch have lower pass rates on the statewide standardized assessment and lower pass rates on Advanced Placement tests than their peers, as illustrated by the graphs below.

ISTEP 2017-18 results by Free/Reduced Price Meals  2016-17 graduates taking an AP exam by Free/Reduced Price Meals[3]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Low-income students are susceptible to a variety of obstacles at school and home that limit their chances for educational success. Students living in poverty face serious challenges at home and in their communities that often interfere with their learning:

  • Instability and distress: Instability, abuse, food and housing insecurity, language difficulties, addiction, domestic violence, and neglect occur with more frequency in low-income homes and all have negative effects on a child’s cognitive, behavioral, and emotional development. Not enough food on the table or erratic housing can cause children to lose focus, to increase anxiety, and can damage mental health. Other common challenges for these students include more school absences and less parental support.
  • Poor nutrition and health: Poor diet, less access to healthcare, and little exercise can affect a child’s behavior at school. Additionally, these factors influence cognition and reasoning.
  • Brain development and cognition: A disruptive home environment, poor health, and instability can lead to distraction, attention deficits, weak vocabulary, and poor processing skills. These basic cognitive skills are critical, particularly in early childhood development.

Strong early education in elementary and middle school are critical to low-income students’ long-term success. It is in these early educational phases that a strong academic foundation is laid and the development of social-emotional learning and soft skills occurs. Early academic proficiency has long-term implications; it sets students up to avoid remediation in postsecondary education, earn credentials and degrees with less debt and in less time, and secure quality employment. Improving learning outcomes for low-income students is essential for Indiana to address its skills gaps and augment our talent pipeline for economic success. 

Co-Enrolled Programs: At-risk youth will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core Program Activities, Activities Outside of the Plan, and Individual Services.

Title I – In-School Youth (Core Program): The WIOA Youth Program provides local workforce areas resources to deliver a comprehensive array of services that focus on assisting in-school youth with one or more barriers. Local Boards can partner with schools and districts to support low-income youth attain a high school diploma, enroll in postsecondary education, and enter the job market career-ready. Because low-income students have lower academic attainment rates than their higher income peers, it is vital to provide these students with the opportunities for advanced coursework and the supports to be successful in those classes. Title I can supplement state funds or other federal funds to offer those resources to low-income students. Specifically, assisting with tutoring and study skills supports can directly improve the academic proficiency levels of low-income youth. Additionally, Title I can blend with Perkins to support academic integration education into career-technical education. This ensures that the CTE content is aligned to rigorous and challenging academic content and complements challenging academic content standards.

Title I involves a combination of the following approaches to increase low-income students’ attainment rates:

  1. Focusing on education and training (ranging from certifications to bachelor’s degrees) that give students a quality postsecondary credential;
  2. Connecting students with employers or industries that provide well-paying jobs in key sectors to augment their network; and
  3. Providing a range of additional supports and services to help students deal with problems related to poverty (e.g., securing a student a paid internship to help with income support, addressing food insecurity through supportive services; or providing comprehensive guidance and counseling, including drug and alcohol abuse services and counseling.

Schools and local Boards can also funnel WIOA Title I toward funding work-based learning experiences for low-income youth. In particular, these funds can help subsidize wages for these students to ensure the balance between learning and earning. Rather than merely working a part-time job, funding a work-based learning experience for low-income students help create sustained interactions with industry or community professionals in real workplace settings. These experiences provide the following for these students:

Work-based learning guidelines

[4]

Indiana’s primary WIOA In-School Youth program is Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG). There are ten common elements of the JAG Model that are embedded in the six models. These elements are adapted to best suit the needs of the students served in each program:

  1. Student Selection. JAG serves students with the greatest barriers to graduation, employment, and/or pursuit of a postsecondary education. Priority is given to students that “need, want, and can benefit” from the services delivered by JAG Model programs.
  2. Classroom Instruction. A trained JAG Specialist provides competency-based instruction aligned to the JAG National Curriculum. JAG Specialists administer a pre- and post-test that provides a gain score to assess the attainment of the JAG competencies.
  3. Adult Mentoring. The JAG Specialist provides individual attention to students focusing on reducing the number of barriers preventing him or her from receiving a high school diploma, securing employment, or pursuing postsecondary education and/or training that leads to a career. Additional adult mentors are recruited to assist with barrier reduction or removal.
  4. Leadership Development. All JAG students participate in a motivational student-led organization – the JAG Career Association – to build on the skills gained in the classroom and to develop leadership and teaming skills to improve employability and advancement. Annual Leadership Development Conferences (LDC) and State Career Development Conferences (CDC) provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their employability and leadership skills and be recognized for their achievements.
  5. Guidance and Counseling. JAG Specialists provide informal guidance to students on career and life decisions and, based on the individual needs of students, connect them to school-based or professional counseling services to address more serious barriers.
  6. Job and Postsecondary Education Placement Services. Specialists are engaged in intensive, one-on-one employer marketing and job development activities to identify quality job placement opportunities for each graduate.  Grades are assisted in the exploration of postsecondary education opportunities and navigation of the financial aid and application processes to pursue the most appropriate opportunities.
  7. Linkages to School- and Community-Based Services. JAG programs are a school-based “one-stop center” for youth with barriers to success to ensure that they receive appropriate academic and social services from available resources in the school, program, and community.
  8. 12-Month Follow-up Services. JAG provides 12 months of post-graduation follow-up and support services on the job, military, and/or enrollment in a postsecondary institution. For those students who do not graduate high school, JAG continues to provide follow-up services to help them connect with stable employment and opportunities to upskill. Through greater program integration, JAG can actively refer these students to Adult Education providers to help with academic remediation and earning a high school equivalency.
  9. Accountability System. Computerized tracking of participants served, services delivered, and performance results (graduation rate, positive outcomes, rates, aggregate employment rate, full-time jobs rate, full-time placement rate, further education rate, wages, and return to school rate) is a critical component of every JAG program. JAG data collection is used to produce research reports to assess the effectiveness of JAG State Organizations and local program affiliates in fully implementing programs, delivering services, and achieving high performance outcomes.
  10. Technical Assistance and Professional Development. JAG staff and consultants provide new and established state organizations and local program affiliates with an array of technical assistance and professional development opportunities.

JAG provides at-risk students with the wraparound supports, mentoring, and assistance to prevent dropout and propel high school and postsecondary achievement. As this has a state appropriation ($8M annually) to augment our federal funds, we will intentionally replicate and scale this and similar models to institutions that have a majority of at-risk students (e.g., alternative schools and juvenile detention centers), in addition to growing JAG in non-traditional locations (e.g., CTE centers). JAG and similar models through WIOA Youth can expand mentoring, counseling, tutoring, and other supportive services to low-income youth, which they may not receive in their homes or schools, to ensure they successfully complete high school and have a strong start to postsecondary enrollment or employment.

In addition to expanding JAG models to Out-Of-School Youth, as discussed in the Low-Income Adults section, local regions are pioneering the JAG College Success Program. Currently offered at three campuses, Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne and Vincennes University, the primary mission of this model of JAG is to support at-risk students (who often participated in JAG in high school) as they transition into postsecondary enrollment. This program helps ensure students persist to achieve of their credential or degree by offering similar wraparound supports to at-risk students in the postsecondary space.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act – Title I, Part A (Federal Program): Title I, Part A: Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides financial assistance to districts and schools with high numbers or percentages of children from low-income families. These funds help ensure that all children meet the state’s academic standards. The overall purpose of Title I is “to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.” Schools and districts can use these funds to strengthen academic programs, increase the amount and quality of learning time, and help provide an enriched and accelerated curriculum, which may include programs, activities, and courses necessary to provide a well-rounded education.

Activities that may be supplemented under Title I, Part A include many that could assist at-risk students’ needs. In particular, Title I, Part A grants could fill in funding gaps for:

  • Counseling,
  • School-based mental health programs,
  • Specialized instructional support services,
  • Mentoring services,
  • Other strategies to improve students’ skills outside the academic subject areas,
  • Preparation for and awareness of opportunities for postsecondary education and the workforce,
  • Career and technical education programs,
  • Broadening secondary school students’ access to coursework to earn postsecondary credit while still in high schools (e.g., AP, IB, dual or concurrent enrollment, or early college high schools),
  • Implementation of a schoolwide tiered behavior model ,
  • Early intervening services coordinated with similar activities and services under IDEA,
  • Professional development and other activities for school staff,
  • Recruitment and retention of effective teachers,
  • Particularly in high-needs subjects,
  • Strategies for assisting preschool children in the transition to elementary school, and
  • Specific programs to be consolidated (if funds will be consolidated).[5]

Local Workforce Development Boards can work with schools and districts on ways to braid WIOA Title I and ESEA Titles I or IV funds together to offer career exploration activities and comprehensive wraparound services for at-risk youth. At-risk youth often face of gap in supports in grades 9 and 10. At-risk students fail 9th grade more than any other grade in high school, and a disproportionate number of students who are held back in 9th grade subsequently drop out. Supporting students as they transition to high school can help combat these issues.[6] As many of the above activities can complement models like JAG, as well as other federal and state funding streams, leveraging these dollars to provide the interventions that will help at-risk students successfully matriculate into higher education or quality employment. Schools and districts can braid ESEA Titles I or IV and WIOA Title I funds to provide HSTAs for students who exhibit basic skills deficiencies. Additionally, funding through ESEA Titles I or IV can supplement state funds for JAG to expand this program into middle schools and grades 9 and 10, whereas WIOA Title I can focus more on grades 11 and 12. By braiding these different funding streams together, locals Boards, schools, and districts can offer comprehensive wraparound services that intervene in students’ lives early to ensure they get on the right track.

Indiana’s State Budget (State Program): In Indiana’s state budget, additional funding is allocated to districts based on their percentage of students who are low-income. There are several funding streams to districts to help expand resources and supports for these students to close academic achievement gaps. While these funds can be used to provide a wide range of supports for students, we would like to see greater coordination among these funds and federal funds. State funds, in particular, can be used to expand programming and resources regarding career exploration, engagement, and experiences.

  • Complexity Component of Student Tuition Support: The FY 2020 complexity component in the Basic Grant for the state’s student tuition support uses the October 1, 2018 SNAP, TANF, and Foster Care data, as well as pupil enrollment, to arrive at a percentage of students who were recipients of SNAP, TANF, and Foster Care assistance. The calculation then looks at the prior year complexity index minus .025 to arrive at a factor. The previous year adjusted factor is compared to the current year factor to determine which is greater. The result is the FY 2020 complexity factor. That amount is multiplied by $3,650 to determine the amount of funding per student. This per student amount is multiplied by the applicable membership count (September or February) and divided by two to arrive at a funding amount. The same formula is used for FY 2021 and uses a complexity multiplier of $3,675.[7]
  • Honors Diploma Grant: As another means to both incentivize greater achievement for low-income students and support the additional resources it requires provide quality education, Indiana provides additional grant funding for those students who receive more rigorous diplomas. This funding is specifically an incentive the state provides to schools to promote higher achievement for students. For FY 2019 and FY 2020, the funding for the Core 40 diploma with Academic or Technical Honors is $1,500 for a student who qualified for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or who received foster care services in the previous school year. The amount is $1,100 for a student graduating with a Core 40 diploma with Academic or Technical Honors and did not qualify for SNAP, TANF or foster Care assistance. Honors Grant funding is part of the monthly state tuition support distribution. School districts determine locally how to use this grant funding. Many schools reinvest this money into their AP or dual credit programs; other schools use the funding to give students or teachers merit awards. We encourage regions to leverage this funding to increase low-income youth’s access and completion of more rigorous coursework – which could include a variety of strategies – as a means to close achievement gaps and establish solid academic foundations for this particular subgroup.
  • Dual Credit Course Fee Waiver: Priority and technical dual credit courses meet the general education or free elective requirements of undergraduate degree programs across the state and are offered at no cost to qualified lower-income students. Per Indiana Code 21-14-8-1, dual credit tuition is waived for students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch.                                                                                                
  • Advanced Placement Program: The state also subsidizes the cost of AP exams in math, science, and English for all 11th and 12th graders, with additional AP subject exams available to qualified lower-income students at no cost. Under the state’s Advanced Placement Program, Indiana allocates $5.2 million per year for AP exams. Per Indiana Code 20-36-3-8, the state funds all exam fees for English, Mathematics, and Science AP exams taken by 9th thru 12th grade Hoosier students enrolled in the corresponding. Priority for funding is given specifically to students receiving free and reduced-price lunch participating in any AP exam outside of English, Mathematics, and Science (e.g., AP Art History and Music Theory, all AP language courses, and AP courses in the social sciences).

State Financial Aid: Indiana has two primary need-based financial aid programs for low-income students interested in pursuing higher education: 21st Century Scholars and Frank O’Bannon. The 21st Century Scholars program is open to all Hoosiers who come from households with incomes that qualify for free and reduced-price lunch in seventh or eighth grade.[8] To become a Scholar, students must enroll during seventh or eighth grade (students actively in foster care may apply any time after the 8th grade). To enroll in the scholarship, the student’s family must meet income eligibility guidelines below. To receive the scholarship in college, students must remain income eligible, which is roughly double the enrollment income requirement. Students must meet income eligibility guidelines at time of enrollment and each year of college; astudent in foster care or in a legal guardianship does not need to meet this requirement.

Eligibility guidelines for state financial aid

While in high school, Scholars must complete the Scholars Success Program (SSP) to help prepare them for college. Activities in the SSP include:

Required activities for the Scholars Success Program

[9]

21st Century Scholars launched activities Scholars must complete once enrolled in a higher education program to help boost persistence and completion. The College Scholar Success Program is designed to help low-income youth succeed in college and your future career. Each year of college, in order to maintain the scholarship, students must complete four annual College Performance requirements and must choose one activity from both the College Engagement and Career Preparation categories.

Required activities for the College Scholar Success program

21st Century Scholars has been operating in Indiana for the past 30 years with high returns on this investment. 21st Century Scholars had the highest college-going rate among all demographic groups at 86%, which is higher than the state’s average enrollment rate of 63%. This is more than double the rate of their low-income, non-Scholar peers and is 18 percentage points higher than their peers who, as high school seniors, had family incomes above the free and reduced-price lunch threshold.[10]

Enrollment in higher education based on socioeconomic status

Among high school graduates going straight to college, 21st Century Scholars were more likely to enroll in Indiana public institutions than either their low-income and higher-income peers. Among all the groups listed below, Scholars were the most likely to attend an Indiana public institution, the most likely to attend an Indiana private non-profit institution, tied for the most likely to attend an Indiana four-year public institution, and the least likely to go out-of-state for college. This indicates that the 21st Century Scholars program may be an important tool in Indiana retaining its talented high school graduates. Public two-year institutions remained the top choice among low-income students not enrolled in the 21st Century Scholars program.[11]

Insitution type among students enrolling in college within one year of high school graduationKey for institution type graphic above

21st Century Scholars located in rural areas were only 2 percentage points less likely than their non-rural peers to immediately enroll in college. Rural 21st Century Scholars were more than twice as likely to go to college as rural low-income non-Scholars, indicating that the Scholars Program may be a valuable tool in closing gaps in postsecondary attainment between rural and non-rural students.

IN high school graduates

Nearly two-thirds of Hoosiers earn college credit before even graduating high school. This is primarily through dual credit and Advanced Placement exams. Earning early college credit can help high school students get accustomed to college-level courses and ultimately help them graduate college on-time or even early. Because of this, achievement gaps in early college credit can be a warning signal. Because scholars tend to earn more early college credits their non-scholar peers, they can enroll into a postsecondary program partway to completion of a degree, speeding up their enrollment time and saving additional costs.

Percentage of high school graduates earning early college credit[12]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Frank O’Bannon Grant is designed to provide access for Hoosier students to attend eligible public, private, and proprietary postsecondary institutions. Eligibility for the grant is based on financial need as determined by the FAFSA. The grant may be used toward tuition and regularly assessed fees. The base award available to students is based on Expected Family Contribution:

Expected family contribution for Frank O'Bannon Grant

This grant program also includes student performance incentives as part of the total amount of aid available to students:

  • Honors Diploma (First Award Year Only): High school graduates with Academic or Technical Honors diploma earn an additional $800 to their base award.
  • GPA (Second, Third, and Fourth Award Years): Students with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA through end of previous award year earn an additional $800 annually.
  • Associate Degree (First, Second, Third, or Fourth Award Years): Students who earn an associate degree before enrolling in bachelor’s degree program receive an additional $800.
  • Accelerated Schedule (Second and Third Award Years): Students who complete at least 39 credit hours during the last award year earn an additional $1300.
  • Fast Track (First, Second, and Third Award Years): Students who complete 30 credits in current award year and then attempt at least 6 more credits can earn up to 100% more aid for the current award year.

Additionally, students with financial need may earn student performance incentives even if his or her base award is $0.[13]

These programs, coupled with federal financial aid opportunities, can have lasting economic effects for low-income youth in Indiana. Grant recipients of 21st Century Scholars and Frank O’Bannon tend to have wages that mirror the average wages of other college graduates, providing evidence of state aid programs’ potential to raise the socioeconomic status of financial aid recipients. Grant recipients’ completion rates continue to improve, resulting in increased return on investment to students and to the state.

While state financial aid programs allow for greater student access, they also translate into financial returns on investment for the state. About one-third of Indiana public graduates who entered the workforce benefited from a state financial aid program, and state aid recipients contribute approximately $3.5 billion additional dollars to the state economy compared to high school graduates over the course of a lifetime.[14]

Because of the positive impact our state financial aid programs have for both students and the state, we would like to see all eligible low-income youth receive this funding to encourage postsecondary enrollment and help offset its cost. There are specific barriers, however, we will need to address to facilitate greater enrollment in both of these programs (as well as other financial aid opportunities). The barriers and potential solutions we need to examine:

BarriersPotential Solutions
Perception of these programs:

  • Because these programs start enrollment in middle school, low-income families may not recognize the opportunity at the moment.
  • Additionally, low-income parents may be more concerned with needs of the present, rather than those of the future.
  • Some families may be intimidated by the requirements for enrolling into these programs.
 

Understanding the usefulness of these programs:

  • Some low-income parents may not understand the importance of higher education or financial aid, as they themselves did not pursue higher education. They may not be familiar with the steps necessary apply and enroll in institutions.
  • Some families may not see higher education as the best fit for their student.
 

Communication of these programs:
  • Some families may not have a strong relationship with the school and, therefore, may ignore information from it.
  • The purpose of these programs may not be effectively communicated to parents and families early enough in a student’s academic career.
Addressing perception:

  • Through an intergenerational approach, we can help low-income parents understand how these programs work and the various components.
  • Principals, counselors, and teachers need to develop strategies to have more students sign up for these programs (e.g., offering options to help enroll students with parents at night or outside of work hours).
  • Some schools are requiring every student complete the 21st Century Scholar form in 7th or 8th grade and related activities. This has a two-fold purpose: 1) the activities will benefit any student seeking higher education regardless of income level, and 2) family circumstances may change over four to five years to require the need for financial aid.
 

Addressing understanding:

  • We can also explain the multitude of postsecondary options and opportunities for which a student may use these grants.
  • While this program covers tuition and fees, most state institutions provide additional incentives for 21st Century Scholars, such as free room and board. We must communicate to both parents and students the long-term benefits of these programs.
 

Addressing communication:
  • Indiana’s communication strategy will begin to raise public perception and understanding of the growing need for higher learning in the changing economy.
  • Outreach Coordinators through the Commission for Higher Education can partner with Workforce Development Boards and other services for low-income individuals, such as SNAP and TANF, to provide information to parents through different settings.
  • Schools cannot be the sole provider of this information to low-income families. Through our workforce development and social services programs, we need to be letting parents know about opportunities for their children.
  • Districts and can work with Workforce Development Boards and other state and community partners to host informational sessions away from schools (e.g., libraries, WorkOnes, community centers, etc.).

The Employer Aid Readiness Network (EARN) Indiana is an experiential learning internship program administered by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE) in partnership with Indiana INTERNnet (IIN), which is administered by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. It is designed to provide financial assistance to employers who provide paid internships for qualified Hoosier students currently enrolled full- or part-time in a postsecondary education program.[15] A qualified internship position must provide an experiential learning, which includes the opportunity to complete work tasks that provide career awareness, exploration and preparation. Interns funded through EARN must assist with primary work tasks, such as:

  • Contributing to project design or development,
  • Developing and carrying out a marketing plan, business strategy, or promotional strategies,
  • Providing general customer service,
  • Participating in networking opportunities,
  • Writing reports, handbooks, manuals, or newsletters, and
  • Other similar tasks.[16]

The internship must be paid and must be at least 8 weeks long. Employers must offer interns an hourly rate, and then CHE will match the hourly rate up to 50%. With a stipend there is no hourly rate to match. Internships through EARN Indiana must include 12 to 20 hours a week during the academic year or 12 to 40 hours during the summer. This program is specifically intended for any low-income youth. As career coaches and navigators through WIOA Youth funds assist in-school youth with higher education plans, this program could serve as an excellent complement to 21st Century Scholars to provide a low-income youth with the opportunity to earn an income and gain experience.

Next Level Jobs: Workforce Ready Grants are designed to remove financial barriers that may prevent Hoosiers from getting the training they need for a job in one of Indiana’s five high-demand fields. The grant pays for all tuition and regularly assessed fees for qualifying high-value certificates. It can be used at any eligible training provider and covers all courses required to satisfy the qualifying program. The grant is available for up to two years. This funding program is not need-based, but it is a last dollar program that incorporates any federal financial aid. It is available to any high school graduate with less than an associate’s degree. For students who may not want to pursue the traditional college track, this grant program can provide another route to postsecondary attainment and potential economic mobility.

Employer Training Grants are also available to help fund work-based learning programs for high school students. If a student earns an industry-recognized credential, the employer is eligible for $1000 reimbursement to offset any costs, including wages. As schools increase their work-based learning programs, Workforce Development Boards can facilitate partnerships with employers to use this grant to cover any expenses from providing these experiences to at-risk youth, in particular.

Federal Financial Aid: The primary source of federal financial aid for low-income students is the Pell Grant. After a student completes and submits the FAFSA, the US government will determine the student’s Expected Family Contribution and the amount of financial aid for which the student is eligible. Expected Family Contribution is the sum of: (1) a percentage of net income (remaining income after subtracting allowances for basic living expenses and taxes) and (2) a percentage of net assets (assets remaining after subtracting an asset protection allowance). The cost of attendance (as determined by the institution), the student's enrollment status (full-time or part-time), and whether the student attends for a full academic year or less are also determining factors in amount of aid the student may receive. Unlike a loan, a federal Pell Grant does not have to be repaid.

The Pell Grant lifetime eligibility is limited to 12 semesters. The 2019-20 Pell Grant provides up to $6,195 for an accredited credit-bearing program leading to a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. Pell Grants, can be used to cover a variety of costs, generally including tuition and fees, books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses, living expenses, such as room and board, and an allowance for costs expected to be incurred for dependent care for a student with dependents.

The Federal Work-Study Program provides an opportunity for low-income students to earn an income while they are enrolled in a higher education program. Workforce Development Boards could work with nearby institutions for higher education to restructure this program into a funding steam for work-based learning experiences for low-income individuals. Traditionally, this program has been merely to help individuals pay their education expenses and related costs. Institutions could redesign this program to mimic the goals of EARN Indiana and provide meaningful work-based learning opportunities for low-income students, allowing low-income youth greater accessibility to critical earn and learn programs. Additionally, a refocus of Federal Work-Study to work-based learning opportunities directly aligns with Indiana’s goal for 100% of postsecondary education programs to include an experience with career relevance.

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is another possible federal financial program for low-income individuals. This is awarded to undergraduate students who have exceptional financial need with federal Pell Grant recipients receiving priority. Not all postsecondary institutions participate in this program; the funds depend on availability at the school. Currently, this award is up to $4,000 a year. Both federal and state financial aid are contingent upon an individual filling out the FAFSA form. Because these programs are existing investments into education and training for low-income individuals, we need to include the FAFSA as part of our intake process at the local level. 

Though not direct financial aid to low-income students, the Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) are outreach and student services programs funded through the US government that are designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO includes eight programs targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to postbaccalaureate programs. In Indiana, TRIO provides funding for institution-specific programs to support low-income youth. Several institutions in Indiana, including Vincennes University and the University of Notre Dame, utilize Upward Bound to connect with nearby high school students. Upward Bound students are often 21st Century Scholars and this program supports the programming and activity requirements within the SSP. Through local plans, our Boards can explore partnerships with nearby institutions’ TRIO programs to facilitate the coordination and braiding of these funds with other workforce, education, and social service programs to support at-risk youth.

The federal Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs grant (GEAR UP) is a discretionary grant that is designed to increase the number of low-income students gaining access to, entering, and completing postsecondary education. These six- or seven-year grants are given to both state and local organizations to promote this mission. There are currently two active GEAR UP grants within Indiana—Purdue University and Fort Wayne Community Schools. The grant held by Purdue University is a state-wide grant, which partners with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education as a subgrantee. The program is located in ten school corporations with high populations of free- and reduced-lunch recipients and utilizes many of the resources, such as the high school 21st Century Scholar Success Program, to prepare students for college. Two staff members at CHE are partially funded through this grant. 

Potential Eligibility: Additional services or co-enrollment low-income youth may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program ActivitiesandIndividual Services.

Carl D. Perkins (Partner Program): Low-income students can gain both academic and technical skills through Perkins-funded programs. The reauthorized Perkins builds off the previous versions of this federal law to eliminate the two‐track approach and raise expectations for students who take Career-Technical Education (CTE) courses. Indiana must ensure that CTE students are taught to the same academic standards and expectations as other students by integrating rigorous and challenging academic content into our CTE programs. To adequately prepare our K-12 students for middle-skill jobs, must erase the notion that CTE can hold students to lower academic expectations than non‐CTE students or a “non college‐bound” track. Economic mobility in Indiana requires pursuit of any type of postsecondary education during the course of one’s life. We must prepare our CTE students to meet those same expectations as our “college-bound” students.

To achieve this goal of raising CTE quality, consistency, and intentionality across the state, the Office of CTE is embarking upon a CTE redesign, with new Programs of Study set to implement in the 2021-2022 academic year. Through the CTE redesign, Indiana will expand the opportunities for dual credit and early college for all students. This will be instrumental for low-income students because of the subsidized cost for these programs. Each redesigned Program of Study will provide students the opportunity to complete at least 30 postsecondary credits (or one year) of postsecondary education. When available, all CTE Programs of Study will be intentionally aligned to a postsecondary credential, specifically certificates and technical certificates offered through Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University.

Increasing this type of postsecondary access and intentional credit accumulation will benefit low-income youth in these programs. Through similar models that offer students who are traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education the opportunity to pursue a high school diploma while simultaneously earning college credits, like the Early College High School Initiative, the CTE redesign emphasizes rigor, relevance, and relationships in courses. Rigorous instruction builds students’ content knowledge and learning habits; relevance engages students in understanding why they are learning a topic and in making real-world connections; and relationships supports student engagement and achievement. Incorporating these features into our CTE programs can improve high school students’ access to and success in college, as a similar principles did in the Early College model.[17]

In high school, these redesigned Programs of Study will be structured into four courses. Each program of study will begin with a principles course, which will provide key foundational knowledge for the pathway. The principles course will be followed by two advanced, non-duplicative, occupational-specific courses. The fourth course will be a pathway capstone course. Directly aligning the program of study courses to postsecondary courses will give students who continue through concentrator status and beyond the opportunity to complete the technical courses required for a technical certificate or certificate of graduation through dual credit or dual enrollment. See below for a sample Program of Study:

Sample Program of Study:

Sample program of study for IN's CTE redesign

The goal of the CTE redesign is to ensure that all CTE programs are providing the necessary knowledge and skills for postsecondary success to all students. By standardizing program quality across the state, we can ensure low-income youth have consistency and quality in their CTE access, regardless of where they live.

Indiana has used Perkins funds to create an Assessment Grant to provide funding to eligible secondary recipients to support state-approved, industry-recognized licensing and certification examinations or assessments leading to a recognized postsecondary credential. This grant opportunity helps recipients bridge the cost-gap for all CTE students, including low-income students. CTE centers are incentivized through the assessment grant to have low-income students, as well as other special populations, earn certifications.  Special population students were weighted to count for 1.25 in the calculation to determine the amount of funds for each recipient. 

Apprenticeships (Federal and State Programs): Expanding apprenticeship programs with support from both state and local stakeholders offers another pathway to both postsecondary attainment and economic mobility for low-income youth.[18] Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training and related classroom instruction with a paycheck. For youth who may have trouble entering and staying in the labor force, apprenticeships provide an incentive to learning skills that lead to careers that pay well. Low-income youth receive proven benefits from completing an apprenticeship, from greater lifetime earnings for participants to an increased return on investment for businesses. Those who participate in an apprenticeship had substantially higher earnings than did nonparticipants. Over the course of a career, estimated career earnings averaged $240,037 more than similar nonparticipants. Participation in an apprenticeship equated to an average gain in annual earnings of $6,595 in by the sixth year of enrollment and $5,839 by the ninth year when compared to the earnings of nonparticipants.[19] While this program can offer benefits for employees (in terms of career longevity and middle-wages) and for employers (as a way to create sustainable talent pipelines), taxpayers also see a return on investment from this workforce development program. By the time former apprentices reach age 65, each dollar invested yields a remarkable return of $23 in benefits.[20]

The largest apprenticeship program in the United States is the Registered Apprenticeship(Federal Program) system. These programs last one to six years and are sponsored by employers, labor management organizations, or other intermediaries. In addition to the program elements common across all quality apprenticeships, these programs meet several requirements, including providing approximately 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning, 144 hours of related instruction, and progressively increasing wages. All local Workforce Development Boards are now Registered Apprenticeship intermediaries, facilitating the expansion of these opportunities throughout regions. As well, local Boards can also ensure that Registered Apprenticeships are not occurring in a silo accessed only by a few Hoosiers, but rather that these opportunities are fully integrated into the range of programs and services available. Businesses are fundamental partners in any apprenticeship program, as they provide the majority of an apprentice’s training, develop skill standards, and pay for apprentice’s salaries. The first step toward expanding our youth apprenticeship system is to partner with businesses to offer them. This may be expanding the breadth of local partnerships or deepening partnerships to enhance current opportunities. Local regions can determine the approach that fits their context and how to leverage these partnerships to increase the prevalence of Registered Apprenticeships in Indiana.

Apprenticeships can lack equity and diversity in their workforce, limiting access and opportunities to many of Indiana’s target populations that could foster this talent pipeline. Indiana could employ pre-apprenticeship and bridge programs to increase access and improve the odds of success for candidates who need job-readiness supports, such as at-risk youth. Pre-apprenticeship programs can introduce people to the workplace culture and expectations, developing employability skills as part of the education and training. Younger apprenticeship candidates may not be job-ready upon their graduation from high school, and they may not want to take the traditional four-year higher education route. Merging pre-apprenticeships with the redesigned CTE programs of study could offer another option for high school students to earn a postsecondary credential and an income as they begin their career. If we connect pre-apprenticeships to high school CTE courses, wraparound supports critical to at-risk students’ success (e.g., career counseling, mentoring, and accommodations) can assist students succeed in this opportunity.[21]

Expanding State Earn and Learns (SEALS) (State Program), which is a state apprenticeship program, will be an important strategy to increasing the prevalence of this opportunity for low-income youth. SEALs are developed by the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship (OWBLA), which is a state-run division that creates and implements various work-based learning pathways for both youth and adult populations. To accomplish this, OWBLA concentrates on three objectives:

  1. Coordinating efforts and partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor to expand registered apprenticeships;
  2. Developing flexible and scalable programs that focus on the state’s key economic sectors and regional high-wage, high-demand occupations; and
  3. Building public-private partnerships to increase business and industry engagement with education systems.

SEALs are structured, but flexible, programs that include an education and on-the-job component. SEALs focus on employer needs, with postsecondary education credits and industry certifications embedded into the program. They can last from weeks to years depending on employer, education, certification, or licensing requirements. SEALs can occur in both non-traditional fields for apprenticeship, such as healthcare, IT, and agriculture, or more traditional fields, such as manufacturing and construction. The employers’ talent needs can guide the apprenticeship program. A sample SEAL is below:

Sample State Earn and Learn for high school students

USDOL Employment and Training Administration (Federal Program): The federal government funds four major job training and workforce development programs for youth: JobCorps, Youth Activities, YouthBuild, and Youth Conservation Corps. These programs (except for the Youth Conservation Corps) are administered by the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training administration and target low-income youth ages 14 (or 16) to 24 who require additional assistance in meeting their occupational goals. The goals of these four programs have a common purpose: to provide vulnerable youth with educational and employment opportunities and access to leadership development and community service activities. The Job Corps program, in particular, provides career and technical training in some of Indiana’s major cities, such as Indianapolis, Gary, and Evansville. For students who may find these programs to be the fest fit for their interests and career aspirations, schools and districts can partner with local Boards to foster connections with the federal programs.

SNAP and TANF (Partner Programs): Given the risk factors these students have toward low academic achievement and dropping out of high school, vulnerable youth require wraparound supports that address their nonacademic needs. Social services, such as SNAP and TANF, can assist with tackling these issues that can negatively affect their participation and outcomes in school through partnerships with schools. SNAP and TANF staff can deliver these social services on school campuses or provide information and assistance to school personnel regarding the multitude of social services students and families can seek. In turn, schools can provide this information and referrals to families regarding how to receive assistance through co-location. Our state agencies need to support schools in providing this information to families, rather than simply relying on them to be the sole resource of information for families. Two social series low-income families may qualify for are SNAP and TANF; Medicaid could also be prioritized as a social service through high schools depending on local need. Some high schools may also offer wraparound services, a comprehensive network of social services that are available for students and families based on an assessment of their needs and an individualized plan of care.

Nationwide, 20% of high school students received at least one social service during the 2014-15 school year. Among high schools that offered at least one social service, 78% of schools offered students at least one social service on campus. The most common type of social service on campus was mental health services (49%), followed by parent/family services to engage them in their child’s needs (47%) and assistance to address material needs (42%). Eighty-seven percent of schools referred students to a social service outside the school, again the most common referral was for mental health services (94%), followed by health services (68%), and assistance to address material needs (63%). High schools referred students to different types agencies outside the school depending on the service needed. The most common type of organization was a social services agency (79%), followed by a community mental health agency (77%) and a public health agency (64%).[22]

If Indiana is to actualize its Vision and meet its second Goal of integrating the various systems serving our target populations, we cannot depend on schools and districts to offer social services to students and families unaided by state agencies and community partners. Given the academic challenges our at-risk youth face, we need teachers and principals focusing on instructional strategies. Guidance counselors cannot solely provide both mental health, career coaching, and wraparound supports. They need additional information and help to ensure students and families do not fall through the cracks. Because schools have an unparalleled access to students and families, local regions can leverage these partners as a site for providing mobile services to these constituents. This must extend to workforce, housing, and social service programs.

While local Workforce Development Boards can facilitate greater access to resources through school and district partnerships, state agencies and staff can shoulder the responsibility of sending information about various social service programs to educators and administrators. This can include endorsed marketing materials, information memoranda and communications, and professional development opportunities for teachers, principals, and counselors to learn more about various programs, in addition to embedding staffers at schools to provide assistance and resources. State agencies can coordinate outreach to schools regarding programmatic information and partnerships through Indiana’s Department of Education, associations, and statewide educational conferences.

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement or supplement these practices through strategic use of ESEA and WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds.[23] These practices are Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, the practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our low-income youth in surmounting their unique circumstances.

St. Joseph’s College at Marian University – Indianapolis (Institution of Higher Education Initiative): St. Joseph’s is a two-year college with flexible class schedules to allow students to work, if they choose, while earning their associate’s degree. St. Joseph’s has partnerships with central Indiana employers who hire students while they are in school and after graduation. Students are placed in positions relevant to their two-year program, so they make connections between what they learn in the classroom and real-world work experience. After graduation, students choose either to go directly into a career or continue to get their bachelor's degree from Marian University or another accredited institution.

St. Joseph’s model allows students to balance work and college after graduating from high school. During your first two semesters, students learn workforce skills and prepare for the earn and learn opportunity, which begins in the third semester. Three days each week, there are no classes, allowing students to participate in an internship or have a job. Classes are held two days a week, during which students connect with faculty on campus.

Ivy Tech Community College Accelerated Programs (Institution of Higher Education Initiatives): Indiana’s community college system offers two types of programs that are offered at an accelerated pace that can help expedite student’s completion of postsecondary education.

Ivy Tech Community College’s Associate Accelerated Program (ASAP) helps high school graduates earn an associate degree in just 11 months and prepares them to transfer to a four-year college to earn their bachelor's degree. Coursework is spread over five eight-week terms. It is a rigorous and rewarding program that will essentially become a student’s full-time occupation until graduation. Classes are held in small, closely-knit groups known as “cohorts.” Classmates will remain with their cohort throughout the program, encouraging, assisting, and depending on each other every step of the way. A dedicated ASAP coordinator helps students identify academic goals, then maps out a clear path they can follow to success, while faculty teams of four teachers per term offer individual attention. Graduates leave with not just an associate degree, but with the skills they need to succeed in further studies and the workforce. 

Ivy Tech Community College also offers short-term, eight-week classes, which encompasses the same material as traditional 16-week courses but are reformatted so that students can complete courses in half the time. By offering eight-week courses, students can take fewer classes at a time, while still making progress toward completing their degrees and certifications. The eight-week classes are offered both in-person and online.

[1] Indiana Department of Education, 2018. Indiana Department of Education Announces Income Eligibility Guidelines for Free and Reduced-Price School Meals and Milk Programs.

[2] National Center for Education Statistics, 2011. Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972–2009.

[3]IDOE Compass.

[4] Indiana Department of Education. Indiana K-12 Work-Based Learning Manual.

[5] Indiana Department of Education. Title I Five Facts.

[6] US Department of Education, 2017. Issue Brief: High School Transition Activities.

[7] Indiana Department of Education, 2019. Public School Digest.

[8]A non-citizen with one of the following designations may enroll in 21st Century Scholars: refugee, asylum granted, indefinite parole and/or humanitarian parole, or Cuban-Haitian Entrant, Status Pending.

[9] Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Learnmoreindiana.org.

[10] Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 2019. College Equity Report 2019.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 2019. 2019-2020 Frank O’Bannon Grants.

[14] Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 2018. College Return on Investment Report 2018.

[15] EARN Indiana was established in 2013 under Indiana Code 21-16-2.

[16] Indiana Commission for Higher Education. EARN Indiana: What is Experiential Learning?

[17] Berger et al., 2013. Early College, Early Success: Early College High School Initiative Impact Study.

[18] The eligible starting age can be no less than 16 years of age; however, most programs require individuals to be at least 18 years of age (US Department of Labor, Apprenticeship Toolkit FAQs).

[19] Reed et al, 2012. An Effectiveness Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis of Registered Apprenticeship in 10 States.

[20] Lerman, 2015. Apprenticeships: Helping Youth Develop the Skills Needed by Today’s Employers.

[21] Jobs For the Future, 2019. Growing Equity and Diversity through Apprenticeship: Business Perspectives.

[22] US Department of Education, 2017. Issue Brief: Social Services.

[23] ESEA Title I contains a provision known as “supplement, not supplant,” which requires that federal funding to support low-income students must be used in addition to, not in place of, state and local funds. Federal funding must supplement, rather than supplant, state and local funds used to support the services and activities.

 

Foster Care is intended to provide temporary care and housing for children and youth until they can be reunited with their family or relatives, adopted, or emancipated.  Unfortunately, youth in the foster care system often fail to find permanent housing and are bounced around from one placement to another.  This population often lacks stability and support and falls behind their peers academically. Foster Care youth across the United States achieve at a lower rate academically and are at a higher risk for dropping out of high school. According to The Legal Center for Foster Care & Education, nationally foster youth face unique challenges that negatively influence their academic success:[1]

  • 34.2% of 17-18 year olds have experienced five or more school changes.
  • Foster youth are approximately three times more likely to be expelled than other youth populations.
  • Foster youth are approximately two times more likely to have out of school suspension than other youth populations.
  • High school dropout rates are 3 times higher for foster youth than other low-income children.
  • The average reading level of 17-18 year old foster youth is at the 7th grade level.
  • Between 35.6% and 47.3%of foster youth are receiving special education services.
  • Only 63% of foster care youth in the Midwest complete high school by age 18 (via HSE or diploma).
  • Nationally, 437,465 youth were reported to be in foster care as of September 30, 2016, with 65% of these youth experiencing more than one home placement while in care.
  • Only 3% of individuals who age out of foster care complete postsecondary credential by the time they are 25 years old (compared to 24% of the general population).

These issues have a profound impact on the adult lives of individuals who experienced foster care. Former foster youth face increased rates of unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, and other adverse situations. Foster youth often lack the skills, supports, and resources needed to find and maintain employment. They are less likely to graduate from high school or college and are subjected to diminished opportunities for earning a family sustaining wage because of this.

Children and adolescents in foster care can have complicated and severe medical, mental, oral, and psychosocial health issues. They often suffer from psychological and emotional trauma that stems from negative early childhood experiences that can have a serious impact on that youth’s later development throughout adolescence to adulthood. To make matters worse, many of these medical and mental health problems can build and grow to further impact youth due to a lack of adequate access to health services.

Data regarding the outcomes for Hoosiers in our foster care system reflect the national trends of foster youth.  According to the Annual Report on Foster Care Youth Educational Outcomes, of the 378 potential foster care youth graduates, only 244 (64.6%) graduated in 2018. This is a significantly lower rate than the percentage of all students in this cohort at 88.1%. The frequency at which foster students move and change schools can be seen as a contributing factor to this achievement gap. High mobility, as well as other challenges unique to this population of students, leads to disproportionately low rates of high school graduation when compared to other economically disadvantaged students. An example of this can be found when comparing foster youth graduation rates to that of homeless youth whose graduation percentage in 2018 was 82.3%.

When looking into data across the Prekindergarten-12 continuum, we continue to see disparities across Indiana:

  • Foster care students have a higher rate of students utilizing graduation waivers than all students at 20.9% compared to 8.3% of all students. 
  • Twice as many foster care students are retained in pre-kindergarten through grade 11 at 3.9% compared to 1.8%. A greater majority of retained students are held back in earlier grades, though some may repeat a year of high school due to credit deficiencies. 
  • Foster care youth are suspended at 21% compared to 8.9% of all students. The same patterns can be seen in discipline rates, which indicate potential behavioral differences likely due to trauma that each subgroup may experience. 
  • ISTEP scores for foster care students (43.3% and 38.3% in English and math, respectively) are also substantially lower than their peers (64.1% and 58.3%), again reiterating a significant gap in students’ academic achievement and success.  
  • Proficiency rates in English slowly decrease from grade 3 to grade 8.[2]
     
    Indiana recognizes that youth involved in foster care experience these drastic gaps in high school completion, postsecondary credential attainment, and engagement in the workforce.  In an effort to change these statistics, we can further focus on providing wraparound services and supports that will allow foster youth to thrive in their communities, gain independence, and earn a livable wage. For this group we will focus on two specific populations, those being, in-school youth and out-of-school youth. 
     
    Co-Enrolled Programs: Hoosier youth ages 14 to 22 years old who are pursuing either secondary or postsecondary education and are currently or formerly in the foster care system through the Indiana Department of Child Services will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core and Partner Program ActivitiesandIndividual Servicesfor foster youth.

    Title I –Youth (Core Program): The WIOA Youth Program provides local workforce areas resources to deliver a comprehensive array of youth services that focuses on assisting in-school youth with one or more barriers to employment prepare for postsecondary education and employment opportunities, attain educational and/or skills training credentials, and secure employment with career/promotional opportunities. Indiana is seeking to renew its waiver for WIOA Youth funding to allow us to designate up to 50% of our Youth funds towards in-school youth. These federal funds are braided with our state appropriation for dropout prevention ($8m in both FY 2019-20 and FY 2020-21).
     
    Youth in foster care or who have left foster care are eligible for the WIOA youth program whether in school or out of school. WIOA Youth funds can go towards any of the 14 services, though local programs can determine what to offer based on the individual’s needs. The state’s primary program for supporting in-school youth is Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG). JAG is a workforce preparation program that targets high school juniors and seniors who have barriers to success. Indiana’s JAG model provides adult mentoring, employability skills, linkages to work experience, adult mentoring, tutoring assistance, and robust follow-up services. Participants also receive individualized attention and identification of specific barriers to success, which may include academic problems, life skills, personal skills, and social or economic barriers. Students receive one year of follow-up service after graduation or program completion. For a youth pursuing postsecondary education, JAG has a College Success Program pilot that is customized to serve Indiana students in their postsecondary educational careers. This program can be found on two Ivy Tech Community College campuses, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, and in partnership with Vincennes University. JAG programs throughout the state are trying to grow the enrollments of foster youth into the program and increase the intentionality with which they offer services to this subgroup. Locally, schools and districts can partner with Workforce Development Boards to identify foster youth, but greater data partnerships at the state-level will allow local Boards and programs to have more targeted recruitment practices.
     
    21st Century Scholars (State Program): Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program provides up to four years of undergraduate tuition to income-eligible students at participating colleges or universities in Indiana, as well as step-by-step guidance and support to make sure scholars succeed in college and receive support to finish their degree. The 21st Century Scholars program focuses on providing the tools scholars need to prepare for college, graduate on time, and begin a successful career. For students in the foster system, income requirements and signing up by the 8th grade are waived; students in foster care can enroll in 21st Century Scholars at any time during their high school career. The other program requirements, such as GPA requirements, remain in effect, which can limit the use of this financial aid for foster youth. Through WIOA Youth, as well as funding through the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (reauthorized as Every Student Succeeds Act), we can increase both the academic and social-emotional supports for our foster youth, raising their levels of achievement. Indiana’s Commission for Higher Education recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Child Services to automate the enrollment of high school students in the foster care system into 21st Century Scholars. This provides students with better timeframes to increase enrollment in 21st Century Scholars program in addition to access to postsecondary financial assistance leading to a degree. Because many students who experienced foster care are also low-income, they may qualify for the federal Pell Grant, which would go towards tuition, housing, fees, and or other related expenses.
     
    Additionally, financial aid programs can help augment the grants and funding foster youth receive. Opportunities, such as EARN Indiana, Federal Work-Study, and SEALs, can directly assist with subsidizing wages through a work-based learning program. 21st Century Scholars and Pell Grants can help support the education and tuition costs a foster youth may incur while pursuing higher education. Through additional federal and state financial aid programs, students who experienced foster care may also receive funding to help with wraparound supports. Through coordination of each of these funding streams, Indiana can provide a better support structure to ensure we have more foster youth persisting to and completing their higher education credential or degree.
     

Workforce Ready Grants (State Program): There are many options to help Hoosiers earn a quality credential, access middle-wage jobs, and attain upward economic mobility. Through more intensive academic and career counseling, we can help our foster youth exit the care of DCS knowing the best option and fit for their goals. This can include short-term credentials and degrees through our Workforce Ready Grant program. Through this program, Indiana pays the tuition and mandatory feesfor eligible high-value certificate programs at Ivy Tech Community College, Vincennes University, or other approved providers. The grant is available for two years and covers up to the number of credits required by the qualifying program. The qualifying high-value certificate programs were selected based on employer demand, wages, job placements, and program completion rates. Depending on an individual’s career aspirations, this may serve as a stepping stone for an individual to adjust to independence and obtain entry into middle-skill careers after leaving the foster care system.

Chafee Grant and Education and Training Voucher (Federal Program): The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program is a federally-funded, state-administered program designed to provide financial and academic support to students who have aged out of the foster care system and who are enrolled in an accredited college, university, or career training program. The Education and Training Voucher program is available for all Children in Need of Services (CHINs) and Probation youth who:

  • Are adopted or placed in a kinship guardianship from foster care on or after 16th birthday.
  • Have been in foster care or foster care will end on the youth’s 18th birthday.
  • Have a high school diploma or High School Equivalency.
  • Are accepted into or enrolled in an accredited college or vocational/technical training program.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen.

To continue to receive ETV funds, students must maintain good academic standing and meet their institution’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) measure. Students may receive up to $5,000 per academic year based on cost of attendance and contingent upon available funding. Qualified students can receive support for up to 5 years and/or until their 26th birthday, whichever they reach first.

Students may use ETV funds for the following:

  • Tuition/Fees
  • On- or off-campus campus housing and board
  • Tutoring services and fees
  • Extracurricular costs
  • Books and supplies
  • Transportation
  • Childcare
  • Medical costs
  • Other direct expenses from enrollment in higher education

These federal funds can blend with our state scholarship programs for postsecondary education tuition. ETV can be used at any accredited higher education program, which includes our credit-bearing Workforce Ready Grants at Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University. Because ETV is not included in a Student Aid Report, it can be stacked on top of a Pell Grant, 21st Century Scholarship, or a Workforce Ready Grant. We recommend prioritizing this funding stream for the associated costs for pursuing higher education or to serve as a gap filler for any tuition and related costs. Students can use this money to help with the incidentals of school and life that often derail students from college completion.

Indiana receives approximately $1.6 million in ETV funds each year from the federal government, a portion of which may be used for administrative costs for services. Currently, our administrative use of ETV focuses on recruitment of students into the program and supports the persistence and completion of their postsecondary education programs. Through three ETV specialists across the state, administrative funds help youth navigate campuses and work with college bursars and registrars to properly apply the funding towards tuition and fees. While this is an important aspect to ensure students are not unduly charged for tuition, we can expand the role of the ETV specialists to increase their focus on academic and career counseling. Currently, one of the many responsibilities of Older Youth Services case workers is to assist older foster youth with academic and career counseling.  Rather than requiring case workers to do it all and to alleviate this workload, we can fund separate academic and career ETV coaches that can provide foster youth with more in-depth information about the variety of education and employment available opportunities after high school. By merging the recruitment function of the ETV liaison with academic and career counseling, we will allow for deeper and more specialized academic and career navigation to help a foster youth identify the best education and/or job training for their career goals and aspirations prior to enrollment. This will increase the persistence and attainment rates of our foster youth. Additionally, while Indiana has extended foster care services to age 23, the federal government has allowed ETV funds to be used until a student’s 26th birthday. For students who do not opt to utilize extended foster care services or participate in Chafee Voluntary Services up to age 23, they will not have a case worker to support them in their academic and career pathways. 

As Indiana moves away from program-specific approaches, we will no longer rely solely on case managers through our Department of Child Services to provide comprehensive career guidance. Because foster youth may not have access to a steady source of career guidance and coaching due to the tumult they experience with schools and families, it is critical that we provide these Hoosiers with greater access to career navigation. Our foster students must understand that there are multiple options to postsecondary success that include a wide array of educational opportunities – certifications and credentials, registered apprenticeships, Associate’s degrees, and Bachelor’s degrees. The postsecondary path cannot and should not look the same for each foster youth in Indiana.

Foster Success (Philanthropic Organization): Established on behalf of Indiana’s transitioning foster youth, Foster Success works to improve access to education and workforce training, provide financial stability, and empower young people to find their voice through a combination of programs, partnerships, and policy. Foster Success administers the state’s Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program, which provides foster youth with up to $5000 per year and personal support through a staff member to help navigate the complexities of college and other job training programs. Additionally, ETV team members have built a 6-week, residential summer bridge program for students between their high school graduation and first semester of college.

As the administrator of the ETV funds in Indiana, Foster Success will focus on supporting students through their academic and career pathways utilizing the administrative funds from ETV. These funds can complement other WIOA Youth funding to provide academic and career coaching for in-school foster youth. Wagner-Peyser(Core Program) also could help fill any funding gaps for career navigation. This would allow Older Youth Services case managers to focus solely on the wellbeing of our foster youth and career counselors to focus on postsecondary opportunities and success to ensure our foster youth receive more targeted employment services. Additionally, by honing our ETV administrative funding on providing more academic and career navigation for foster youth, we want to see a greater percentage of these youth complete and earn a quality postsecondary credential by the age of 25.

Foster Success’s Financial Literacy Programs include a number of programs ranging from online, self-regulated modules to the multi-day Opportunity Passport Program, as well as a year-long credit building program to support foster youth between the ages of 14 - 25 gain financial literacy skills. These programs could be incorporated into WIOA Core Programs as an additional service for wraparound supports and to help alleviate some of the financial pull on WIOA Adult funds. Participants receive participation and completion stipends and the opportunity to access a personal savings account to enable and encourage savings. Opportunity Passport provides foster youth access to mainstream banking products through a $100 seed contribution and a savings match of up to $3,500 (maximum) to purchase approved assets, including cars and housing. Foster Success can provide the financial education and experience to out-of-school foster youth, allowing WIOA funds to focus on career coaching, education and training, and additional wraparound supports.

Social Security Act: Title IV-E: Chafee Grant and Older Youth Initiatives (Federal and State Programs): Indiana administers two programs through the Chafee program under Indiana’s Older Youth Initiatives, established under the Foster Care Independence Act in 1999: Older Youth Services (OYS) and the Chafee Program Voluntary Older Services (VS). The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act in 2008 allowed for Title IV-E funding under the Social Security Act to create Collaborative Care, Indiana’s extension of foster care. Older Youth Services and Collaborative Care are available until a youth turns 21; Voluntary Older Youth Services are available until a youth turns 23. OYS and Collaborative Care are services and supports primarily focused on helping those youth who have or are expected to turn 18 in foster care in successfully achieving their goals for adulthood, specifically in the areas of housing, employment, education, physical and mental health, and financial education.

The primary purposes of OYS include:

  • Identifying youth who are expected to remain in foster care until their 18th birthday or after and assist in their transition to self-sufficiency.
  • Helping identified youth receive necessary education, training, and services to overcome potential barriers to employment.
  • Helping youth prepare for and enter postsecondary education and/or training institutions.
  • Providing personal and emotional support for youth aging out of foster care.
  • Assisting youth in locating and identifying community resources that will be available to the youth after DCS involvement has ended.
  • Encouraging positive personal growth in older youth through “teachable moments.”

A foster student’s case manager can serve as a resource to help direct him/her towards WIOA Core Programs that can offer education, training, and wraparound services. Case managers can proactively connect foster youth with WIOA Programs to provide early interventions and help for career services before the individual is in need of further government assistance. For example, a case manager can help enroll a high school foster student in JAG or assist an out-of-school youth formerly in the foster care system towards local WIOA Out-of-School Youth programs. For those foster students graduating without a concrete next step, case managers could help set up a meeting with a WorkOne (either in-person or virtually) for career and employment services and assistance.

Collaborative Care is a voluntary program that allows foster and probation youth between 18- and 21-years-old to remain under the care and placement of DCS in order to continue receiving services. To be eligible for Collaborative Care, the youth must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Enrolled in an educational program (high school, adult education, postsecondary education program, or trade school);
  • Participating in an independent living program meant to promote employment or remove barriers to employment;
  • Employed and working at least 80 hours per month; or
  • Not able to meet any of the above requirements due to a documented medical condition.

The program can assist with housing, services, networking, case management, and limited supervision to help foster youth transition to adulthood. If enrolled in Collaborative Care, the individual will receive continued support while completing their education or starting a career. These supports include:

  • Rent and utilities
  • Clothing allowance
  • Assistance building a support network
  • Continued services (including therapy, psychiatric care, etc.)
  • Continued case management
  • Continued health insurance

For qualifying in-school foster youth, this program complements the ETV program to help with associated costs. As 21st Century Scholars funds tuition and fees, ETV can focus on books and other educational-related costs with Collaborative Care helping with living expenses. By blending these three programs together, we provide both the educational opportunity and wraparound supports to help foster youth attain economic mobility.

As youth age out of Chafee Older Youth Services or Collaborative Care between ages 18 and 21, they may continue to receive voluntary services up to age 23. Voluntary services provide additional supports in education, employment, and financial assistance to former foster youth through case management, Emancipation of Goods and Services, and Room & Board. Voluntary services can be an additional safety net for youth in pursuit of postsecondary opportunities. 

Potential Eligibility: Additional programs and services Hoosier youth ages 14 to 22 years old who are pursuing either secondary or postsecondary education and currently or formerly in the foster care system through the Indiana Department of Child Services may receive. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities andIndividual Servicesfor foster youth.

Title IV – Vocational Rehabilitation (Core Program): If a foster youth has a disability in high school, accommodations and assistance is provided for by the school through the federal IDEA funding. If a foster youth with a disability is pursuing postsecondary education and training, s/he may be eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. Unless an individual has a significant disability, which would require intensive and specialized career coaching and ongoing support, foster youth with a disability will be co-enrolled into VR for any accommodations or auxiliary supports for training.

Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) is a program for students with disabilities who are eligible or potentially eligible for VR services.  It provides meaningful career planning for a seamless movement from high school to employment or postsecondary training. Students are eligible for this program if they are in a secondary, postsecondary, or other recognized education programs. In-school foster youth with a disability can be co-enrolled in Pre-ETS, since this program covers students ages 14 to 22 years old and eligible for or receiving special education or related services (e.g., IEP, 504 plan).

SNAP (Partner Program): Postsecondary students attending classes at least halftime must also work an average of 20 hours per week to qualify for SNAP. Some students who work less than 20 hours per week may be eligible if they can prove they meet certain conditions, such as:

  • Receiving federal work study,
  • Caring for a child younger than age 12,
  • Inability to work due to health reasons, or
  • Enrolled in a government sponsored education and training program, including SNAP Employment and Training programs and programs authorized by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Title III – Wagner-Peyser (Core Program): Since foster youth may require more extensive case management and career counseling, we suggest pairing WIOA Youth funding with Wagner-Peyser support to help prioritize that. JAG, for example, could be supplemented with labor exchange services from Wagner-Peyser, serving as the gap filler for these services. Any additional Wagner-Peyser activities should prioritize for business services related to recruitment and retention of this target population and the unique challenges they face.

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement or supplement these practices through strategic use of ESEA and WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. These practices are Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, the practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our Hoosiers currently or formerly in foster care in surmounting their unique circumstances.

Indianapolis Metropolitan High School (Philanthropic Program): Indianapolis Metropolitan High School (Indy MET) is a public school administered by Goodwill Services. It provides high school education to students in grades 9-12. It is a school specifically designed to serve students who are experiencing circumstances that may become barriers to education such as: involvement in foster care, homelessness, teen pregnancy and/or parenting, identified for special education, and involvement with criminal justice. Students are provided with academic coaches who help student’s problem solve around barriers, access to wraparound services, and create sustainable plans for success in school and beyond.  They also provide students with access to childcare during school hours, employ tutors for academic help, and provide students with transportation to allow them to not only get to and from school but also help them access jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities. If a foster youth is also receiving SNAP or TANF, Indy Met can receive SNAP or TANF E&T funding for that individual.

Indiana Youth Advisory Board (State Initiative): The Indiana Youth Advisory Board (IYAB) is a program of the Indiana Department of Child Services, administered and facilitated by Foster Success. IYAB consists of six regional boards made up of current and former foster youth between the ages of 14 – 21 (and up to age 23 if the youth is receiving ETV funding). IYAB is designed to provide leadership and self-advocacy skills for foster youth, giving these youth an opportunity to find their voice and provide feedback to DCS and other stakeholders. The purpose of the IYAB is to empower Indiana’s foster youth to advocate for themselves and communicate their needs and concerns effectively through increased awareness of their rights and responsibilities and increased access to resources they need to make successful transitions. IYAB members participate in quarterly meetings, trainings, conferences, and other activities throughout the year.

Ball State University (Institution of Higher Education Initiative): The Ball State University Guardian Scholars Program is designed for Ball State students who are current or former foster youth. The Guardian Scholars Program provides financial aid, wraparound, and other referral supports and services to help students succeed in completing their degree. Resources available to Guardian Scholars include additional scholarship opportunities, leadership development opportunities, assistance with navigating campus offices and systems, and referrals to community agencies and resources.

Indiana University – Purdue University – Indianapolis (IUPUI) and Ivy Tech Community College –  Central Indiana (Institutions of Higher Education Initiatives): With support from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, IUPUI and Ivy Tech – Central Indiana have built three unique programs to support current and former foster youth in the Indianapolis area:

  • Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholars program provides a scholarship and support services to students who may have challenges accessing or achieving success in higher education, including current and former foster youth, on both the Ivy Tech and IUPUI campuses. Support beyond financial assistance includes proactive, academic mentoring and meetings; career and personal growth focused curriculum and workshops; and community service and university engagement opportunities.
  • THRIVE Program: IUPUI offers the THRIVE program and scholarship funds for first-year, independent students. This includes students who have experienced foster care, housing insecurity, homelessness, emancipation, legal guardianship determined by a court, or a lack of family support. THRIVE students participate in a residence-based learning community, sharing classes and in and out of class experiences. Additionally, they receive individual guidance and support from certified success coaches, are connected to on-campus employment opportunities, and have opportunities to be engaged in the community.
  • IGNITE Program: Ivy Tech Community College – Central Indiana will be launching IGNITE in fall 2020 modeled after the THRIVE program at IUPUI for independent students on their campus.

Indiana University – Bloomington (IU) (Institution of Higher Education Initiative): The IU Groups Scholars Programs was created in 1968 to increase college access and attainment among first-generation, under-represented populations on its campus. The program provides academic, financial, and social support to students, including current and former foster youth. Scholars participate in a Summer Bridge program prior to their first year and take many classes together especially in their first year for additional support.

[1] Foster Ed, 2018. Fostering Success in Education: National Factsheet on the Educational Outcomes of Children in Foster Care.

[2] Indiana State Board of Education, 2019. Annual Report on Foster Care Youth Educational Outcomes.

 

Under the McKinney-Vento Act, homeless students are those who lack a fixed, regular, or adequate nighttime residence. This subgroup includes students who share housing due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or campgrounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; or are abandoned in hospitals.[1]Unaccompanied homeless youth are young people who lack safe, stable housing and who are not in the care of a parent or guardian. They may have run away from home or been forced to leave by their parents. These youth live in a variety of temporary situations, including shelters, the homes of friends or relatives, cars, campgrounds, public parks, abandoned buildings, motels, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings.[2] Indiana’s public schools identified nearly 19,789 homeless students in the 2017-2018 school year, which includes 1,164 unaccompanied youth.

Of the 1,088 potential homeless youth graduates, 895 (82.3%) graduated in 2018. This was only slightly less than the graduation rate of all students at 88.1%.[3] The challenges of homelessness and mobility lead to lower rates of high school graduation among homeless students. Nationally, data show that students who experience homelessness even one time while in high school have higher dropout rates than other economically disadvantaged students. Youth experiencing homelessness can find it difficult to access stable income, education, and employment.

Homeless youth may experience any, or often several, of the following complications that can inhibit their physical, emotional, social, and academic development:

  • Many youth enter homelessness with little or no work experience.
  • Youth are in the process of transitioning toward adulthood and may not have acquired personal, social, and life skills that make independent living possible.
  • Youth often avoid the homeless-serving system out of fear of authorities.
  • For youth under age of 18, the situation is complicated by the obligation of families and/or the government to care for them and provide for their basic needs.
  • Many youth are forced to abandon their education because of homelessness.
  • Youth who experience homelessness are especially vulnerable to criminal victimization, sexual exploitation, labor and sex trafficking, or traumatic stress.

The absence of a stable living arrangement has a devastating impact on educational outcomes for youth. For many students who are homeless, not having the proper school records often leads to incorrect classroom placement. Medical records, immunization records, previous school transcripts, proof of residency, and for unaccompanied youth, parental permission slips, are some of the “paper” barriers to students being placed efficiently and appropriately within school districts. Homeless youth also have higher levels of physical trauma and social isolation when compared to their housed peers, which can have significant impact on children’s education and health outcomes:

  • Because of their high mobility, homeless youth often have lower levels of academic achievement and limited employment opportunities. In 2017, only 25.8% of homeless or housing unstable students passed both English/Language Arts and Math ISTEP+, compared to the state percentage of 51.4%.
  • Homeless youth are more likely to have experienced traumatic events, abuse, and neglect. These experiences have a lasting impact on behavior, emotional health, and physical health.
  • The prevalence of psychiatric disorders (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder) for homeless youth are higher than their peers. Chronic health conditions are also higher in the homeless population, due to lack of permanent housing and barriers to healthcare services. [4]

The lack of education is the top risk factor for youth homelessness. The only way to keep unaccompanied homeless youth safe is to ensure they can access services, such as shelter and housing, health care, and education. Yet, a recent survey in Indiana revealed significant barriers for youth accessing these services in addition to the “paper” barriers impeding their educational success. Youth under 18 in particular face logistical hurdles, including:

    • Being unable to consent for shelter and housing services;
    • Avoiding services due to fear of child welfare involvement; and
    • Being unable to obtain their own birth certificate and state-issued identification card.
       
      The Coalition for Homeless Intervention and Prevention’s (CHIP), which collects data on from Indianapolis, deeper research of homeless youth and young adults found that certain groups are disproportionately represented in homeless statistics:
  • Youth aged 12-17,
  • LGBTQ populations,
  • Youth with special needs or disabilities,
  • Pregnant or parenting young adults,
  • Youth of color,
  • Youth formerly in foster care,
  • Victims of sex trafficking or domestic violence, and
  • Youth formerly engaged with the juvenile justice system.[5]

In the metropolitan region of Indianapolis:

  • 47% of youth ages 13-17 who experience homelessness do so without a parent, guardian or other adult.
  • 59% of youth and 86% of young adults have a mental health disorder.
  • 1 in 3 youth experiencing homelessness have a substance abuse disorder.
  • 69% of young adults experiencing homelessness are African-American.
  • 25% of youth ages 13-17 and 1 in 3 young adults experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ.[6]

Homelessness can compound other factors that create vulnerabilities and inequities for youth. It can increase a young adult’s difficulty of graduating high school, let alone enrolling in and completing postsecondary education, finding stable employment, and earning family-sustaining wages. There is also a likelihood that homeless youth will continue to battle bouts of homelessness throughout their adult lives. Providing interventions and wraparound supports for these students, specifically while in high school, will help them persist in their academic studies and establish the foundation necessary for these students to be successful in postsecondary college and career. Focusing on the homeless youth population (and including their parents or families, when possible) will help prevent creating an intergenerational cycle of homelessness.

Co-Enrolled Programs: Homeless youth will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core Program Activities and Activities Outside of the Plan for these youth.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act – Title VII (Federal Program): Title VII, Part B: The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is a federal law that protects the educational rights of students experiencing homelessness. It ensures protections and provides funding for services for students experiencing homelessness. For FY 2020, Indiana will be awarded $1.49 million for these efforts. The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act encompasses the following provisions:

  1. Students who are experiencing homelessness can remain in one school (including a preschool), even if their temporary living situation is located in another school district or attendance area, if that is in their best interest. Schools must provide transportation.
  2. Students who are experiencing homelessness can enroll in school and begin attending immediately, even if they cannot produce normally required documents, such as birth certificates, proof of guardianship, immunization records, or proof of residency, or even if they have missed application or enrollment deadlines.
  3. Students who are experiencing homelessness must be able to participate fully in school activities and access all programs and services for which they are eligible, including extracurricular activities, credit recovery, special education services, school nutrition programs, language assistance for English learners, career and technical education, gifted and talented programs, magnet schools, charter schools, summer learning, online learning, and before- and after-school care.
  4. Every local educational agency, including charter schools that are local educational agencies, must designate a homeless liaison. Homeless liaisons responsibilities include: identification, enrollment, ensuring access to early childhood education and other programs, and collaboration with community agencies.[7]

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) through the Indiana Education for Homeless Children and Youth program (INEHCY), currently employs several strategies to identify and assess the needs of homeless children and youth. These strategies include training, outreach, technical assistance and guidance, and monitoring of McKinney-Vento funding to districts, and state law. Indiana’s McKinney-Vento funds support trainings offered to a broad audience which includes homeless liaisons, district staff, district administrators, several state agencies, and community service providers to help identify potentially homeless students. Training opportunities address how homelessness is defined and what it portrays across Indiana, the educational rights of homeless children and youth, the roles of the homeless liaison and state coordinator, and best practices in addressing the needs of homeless children and youth. The INEHCY also offers a comprehensive program for school personnel, including liaisons, principals and other school leaders, attendance officers, teachers, enrollment personnel, and specialized instructional support personnel, to heighten the awareness of school personnel of the specific needs of homeless children and youth, including such children and youths who are runaway and homeless youth. [8]

Schools should assess the needs of homeless youth through a collaborative effort of assessments administered by various school personnel (e.g., special education, speech pathology, English for Speakers of Other Languages, school nurses). Districts are also encouraged to provide supplemental opportunities, including access to online courses, summer school, mentoring programs, after-school programming, and tutoring through both McKinney-Vento and Title I of ESSA funding as ways to provide the enhanced services for positive youth development, increased focus on academic success, and credit recovery. In addition to providing professional development opportunities, McKinney-Vento can be used locally to provide both academic and wraparound supports for homeless students. Homeless youth are more likely to be chronically absent, missing 20 or more school days in one year.[9]This negatively impacts student performance, with chronically absent students having lower standardized test scores, grade point averages, and higher rates of grade retention and dropping out.[10] By providing both academic and supportive services, schools can lessen the impact of those missed days and can help to get students back on track academically, preventing the aforementioned negative outcomes. Additionally, the IDOE should provide training and technical assistance on using real-time attendance data and selecting strategies that deal with root causes rather than implement exclusionary discipline. Title III of ESEA, the Migrant Education Program, could be coordinated with McKinney-Vento funds at the local level to provide enhanced services to these students, as many of our migrant students may also qualify for this program.

School districts can partner with Workforce Development Boards and other community organizations to determine how to use McKinney-Vento funds in relationship to Core and Partner Programs for prevention services. Though not all incidents of youth homelessness can be prevented, with appropriate, targeted services, some families and youth at-risk can avoid this crisis. These funds could be used by local districts to increase community partnerships and co-location of services for students and families to avoid homelessness. Community programs can partner with schools to reach youth teetering on the brink of homelessness, offering individual and family case management to prevent runaway behavior or to provide emergency rental assistance to families facing eviction to prevent family homelessness. Through schools, youth can be connected to drop-in centers and street outreach organizations to facilitate access to services. Some youth need immediate housing arrangements, like subsidized apartment living or an emergency bed; some require specific drug and mental health treatments; other youth would benefit more from programs in schools or community-based settings aimed at developing positive connections with adults and communities. A youth’s circumstances may require comprehensive service strategies, including different combinations and sequences of housing, treatment, school and community programming, and/or family supports, that need not be placed solely on the shoulders of our schools. Districts and schools can leverage co-location to share in helping support our hardest to serve students.

Case management through McKinney-Vento might also include connection to educational resources, addressing legal needs, and budgeting and financial management assistance for the youth’s family. With the proper support, teachers and staff can help identify students who are facing crises and connect them to the right community supports, such as housing, counseling, and/or legal assistance. Co-location efforts, such as embedding staff members in schools or providing workshops to teachers and counselors regarding program opportunities, can complement the professional development outlined through IDOE’s ESSA Plan.

Title I – Youth (Core Program): Under the WIOA Youth Program, youth experiencing homelessness are eligible to receive services, whether in-school or out of school. WIOA Youth services can complement supplemental opportunities funded through McKinney-Vento, such as tutoring, dropout prevention, postsecondary education preparation and transition activities, mentoring, and after-school and summer programming. Currently, our JAG Program targets at-risk students, including homeless youth, through these types of wraparound supports as a dropout prevention strategy. Often, JAG is deeply embedded in schools as an intervention. By braiding McKinney-Vento, WIOA Youth, and other ESSA funds (such as Titles I, III, or IV), Workforce Development Boards can scale JAG to additional schools within a region, targeting specific subgroups.

Helping homeless youth transition successfully to life after high school, in particular postsecondary education and quality employment, should be a direct focus of our WIOA Youth programs. Homeless youth need access to education if they are to avoid homelessness as adults. Postsecondary educational institutions can provide students with meals, counseling, adult and peer mentorship, leadership opportunities, extracurricular activities, social work services, and other services beyond education. These services are enhanced when educational institutions and local homeless organizations coordinate efforts to provide services and supports to these youth. In addition to educational services, WIOA Youth can assist with the development of employability and technical skills to ensure long-term economic stability. It can also provide follow-up services for homeless youth, as they often need additional supports as they acclimate to adulthood. Through programs like JAG, workforce development services for homeless youth can include all types of postsecondary-readiness and career development services. Through WIOA Youth and McKinney-Vento, we can provide youth educational attainment, employment and job services, and housing support can have significant social return on investment.

Potential Enrollment: Additional programs and services a Hoosier may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities,Activities outside the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor adults in this target population.

Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (Partner Program): Under the Perkins Act, youth experiencing homelessness according to McKinney-Vento’s definition are included in the definition of special populations. The special population designation is given to groups who may experience unique barriers to accessing and succeeding in CTE programs. As a result, homeless youth are entitled to receive a variety of supplemental supports in both secondary and postsecondary institutions to ensure that they have equal access to and opportunity to succeed in CTE programs. Local CTE plans must now include a comprehensive needs assessment and set of strategies for special population youth to overcome barriers to access and success in CTE. The needs assessments must involve representatives of agencies serving homeless children and youth in the respective CTE district. State tuition support dollars may be used to reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for homeless youth, including any costs related to dual enrollment programs, certification examinations, or early college high school programs. Because Indiana dedicates a portion of its Perkins leadership dollars towards district grants for certification costs, we encourage our CTE districts to leverage this funding for this particular subgroup to alleviate a financial burden. Additionally, Indiana will include the actual levels of performance for special populations, disaggregated data on designated special populations and data showing any disparities or gaps in performance of special populations, in all CTE reports.

Title II – Adult Education (Core Program): Students experiencing homelessness face numerous challenges in completing high school. They frequently go hungry, suffer chronic and acute illnesses, and are subjected to constant stress. Homeless youth also move frequently due to limits on the length of their stay in a shelter or temporary accommodations or to escape abusive family members. Too often, these moves lead to school changes. Youth affected by homelessness are 87% more likely to drop out of high school and, as a result, are more likely to become homeless as adults.[11] We can capture these eligible youth by referring them to Adult Education (AE) providers through our WorkOnes either when they drop out or if they need additional educational support upon graduation. These can be warm referrals made by school districts to local Workforce Development Boards. As soon as they are identified as disengaged with the traditional secondary system, we can provide the tutoring and education needed to ensure these eligible youth earn their high school equivalency. Capturing these eligible students within AE while they are still young will lessen the likelihood of this population needing interventions further on in adulthood.

SNAP (Partner Program): Federal SNAP regulations specify that unaccompanied homeless youth are eligible to apply for SNAP. Applying for SNAP services does not require photo identification, proof of a permanent address, approval by a parent or guardian, nor does it, in the case of youth living independently, place age restrictions on applicants.[12] Despite this being the case, lack of awareness that this population is eligible for SNAP has created a barrier for unaccompanied homeless youth to receive critical benefits. To be successful in school, children and youth require adequate nutrition each day, or they will struggle with their focus and awareness, exacerbating their existing educational gaps due to chronic absenteeism, stress, and other issues. School Homeless Liaisons, JAG Program Directors, WorkOne counselors, case managers, and other community workers can refer any unaccompanied homeless youth to SNAP and assist them with filing this paperwork to ease food insecurity issues. By leveraging the opportunity this Combined Plan offers Indiana, we can ensure our most vulnerable Hoosiers make the most of the interdependencies of these systems. Through strategies like co-location and cross-training, we can start to breakdown programmatic silos, so those serving Hoosiers at the frontline can help them access every program that could be beneficial.

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement or supplement these practices through strategic use of ESEA and WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. These practices are Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, the practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our homeless youth in surmounting their unique circumstances.

Outreach Indiana (Community Program): The main goal of this community organization is to empower homeless youth to achieve stability. This program works with youth by helping them transform their self-images and create self-efficacy. Outreach provides an extensive amount of services including:

  • Basic Needs Drop-In: Youth can take showers, do laundry, eat, use computers, as well as receive food bags, clothing, and hygiene items.
  • Administrative Drop-In: Community partners come to Outreach to provide assistance obtaining identification, signing up for SNAP/TANF, health insurance, housing, mental health, employment, legal assistance, or education referrals.  Youth can also sign up to receive their mail at Outreach’s program center.
  • Case Management: Outreach assists with both career and supportive services, such as transportation, social skills, medical appointments, and job interviews.  They also focus on obtaining housing, finding employment, working through educational issues and dealing with legal issues.
  • Fun Days:  Recreational therapy allows opportunities to experience Indianapolis and take a moment to break from the pressures of life.

Outreach Indiana also runs the ARCH (Advocacy, Relationship, Case Management in High Schools) Program in central Indiana during and after school hours. This program assists homeless high school students with a wide range of services including: obtaining birth certificates, social security cards, Medicaid coverage, TANF/SNAP, and bus passes, along with educational assistance by helping with financial aid forms, taking students on college visits, and helping them apply for scholarships.  Additionally, ARCH Life Skills Program through Outreach provides a 12 week Life Skills class that focuses on identity, goal setting, financial literacy, respect, career and education, volunteerism, handling conflict, cultural competency, values and principles.

As there are many similar local organizations that offer these types of services, both our school districts and Workforce Development Boards can find ways to create or further public-private partnerships to help provide students with resources. Through these types of resources, no single entity must provide the entirety of comprehensive services. Through our local plans, we can identify those areas where embedding staff members or increasing awareness of programs can better address the holistic needs of students.

Crisis Center, Inc. (Community Program):  The Crisis Center is a community organization located in Gary, Indiana, administering programs for youth, adults and families. These services include: Emergency Youth Residential Shelter, Open Residential/Long-Term Care, Runaway and Homeless Youth outreach, Juvenile delinquency prevention, crisis and suicide prevention hotline, and professional counseling services. The Alternative House, an emergency youth residential shelter, provides supports for youth, aged 10-18, who are runaways, homeless, abused, or neglected and need help to resolve problems and successfully return home or to an alternative, safe living situation. The Crisis Center also runs a Safe Place/Safely Home programs, which partners with businesses and local law enforcement to help youth in crisis. For Safe Place, businesses display Safe Place signs indicating their willingness to assist youth, and Crisis Center staff retrieve youth from sites, transporting them to safety at Alternative House. Safely Home offers an alternative for youth who are discovered by law enforcement on the street who have been pushed out, asked out, voluntarily left or have been forced to leave home. These youth are transported to Alternative House to provide immediate safety, shelter, food, clothing and counseling. The services provided by the Crisis Center can make a crucial impact on at-risk youth, providing them the supportive services needed to find safety and help put them on the right track for the future.

Stopover Inc. (Community Program): Stopover provides crisis intervention for adolescent youth and their families in central Indiana. Programs they run include: a 24 hour crisis line, individual and family centered home based counseling, emergency shelter, and a transitional living program. Stopover’s transitional living program services youth ages 16-22, who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Youth live in a residential environment, attend school, are employed, and develop life skills, along with receiving case management services. This program focuses on unaccompanied youth who are unable to stay with their families while transitioning to independent living.

Schools on Wheels (Community Program): School on Wheels has both school-and shelter-based programming that focuses on different types of homeless youth. School-based programming focuses on homeless who have become stably housed, as well as “hidden homeless” youth, which are youth that have doubled up with other families, in motels, cars, or other spaces not meant for habitation. School on Wheels works with schools to provide critical academic supports that benefits students impacted by the trauma of homelessness. By focusing on these two specific types of homeless populations, School on Wheels is able to lessen the negative impact that homelessness has on educational achievement. It provides interventions that help students catch up academically and equips parents to advocate for their youth. As local districts and Boards find similar partners with which to foster a partnership, we can increase postsecondary credential attainment and the economic mobility of this population.

[1] Indiana Department of Education, September 2018. Who is Homeless Memo.

[2] Indiana Education for Homeless Children & Youth – INEHCY, 2017. College Access and Success for Students

Experiencing Homelessness.

[3] Indiana State Board of Education, 2019. Annual Report on Homeless Youth Educational Outcomes.

[4] Indiana Youth Institute, October 2018. Youth Homelessness In Indiana Data Brief October 2018.

[5] Indiana University Public Policy Institute, 2019. Homeless in Indianapolis: 2019 Marion County Point-in-Time Count.

[6] Indianapolis Continuum of Care & the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention, August 2018. YYA Coordinated Community Plan.

[7]42 USC Chapter 119, Subchapter VI, Part B: Education for Homeless Children and Youths.

[8] Indiana Department of Education, 2019. Amendment to Indiana’s Consolidated State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

[9] Institution for Children, Poverty and Homelessness, August 2017. Why Do Homeless Students Miss School?

[10] National Center for Homeless Education, September 2017. In School Every Day: Addressing Chronic Absenteeism Among Students Experiencing Homelessness

[11] America’s Promise Alliance, 2016. Hidden In Plain Sight: Homeless Students in America’s Public Schools.

[12] US Department of Agriculture, 2013. SNAP - Clarification of Policies Barriers Facing Homeless Youth.

 

: More than 112,000 Hoosier students speak a language other than English at home, representing more than 275 different languages. Of these students, over 50,000 students have been formally identified as English learners due to limited proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. English Learners make up over 5% (over 65,000) of Indiana’s total student population. Spanish speakers represent 71.2% of the language minority student population of Indiana, Burmese and Chin represent 6%, German and Pennsylvania Dutch represent 2.6%, Arabic 2.5%, Mandarin and Sichuanese 2%, and Punjabi and Vietnamese each at 1.2%. Over 70% of Indiana ELs are at an intermediate or advanced level of English proficiency. These students may communicate very effectively in English in social contexts, but need direct English language instruction to acquire the academic language essential for postsecondary success.[1]

In the last 15 years, Indiana’s EL population has grown over 500%, necessitating our state agencies, local Workforce Development Boards, and employers to consider how to integrate this population into our talent pipeline.[2] Indiana has ELs in every county across the state. Some specific counties, however, do have a larger population of EL students: Marion, Elkhart, Allen, St. Joseph, and Tippecanoe. Our most commonly spoken native languages include: Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Burmese, and Vietnamese.[3] Providing early interventions to these students through English Language programs integrated with other academic and technical disciplines will help Hoosier ELs gain the knowledge and skills necessary for career and economic advancement and self-actualization. If we can capitalize on the state and federal investments prioritizing this subgroup, we can assist our Hoosier ELs in becoming fully engaged citizens in our communities. Providing the necessary supports allow our ELs to leave the high school on the right track for postsecondary success, as well as prevent potential future dependence on government benefits. As we matriculate more students through these early academic interventions that yield long-term talent development, we may also see pockets within our English Learner, immigrant, and refugee communities improve.

Any student enrolling in an Indiana school for the first time, including preschool, foreign exchange students, and immigrants, is given a Home Language Survey upon entrance. Students enrolling in grades K-12 with a native language other than English included on the survey are screened for English proficiency using the World-class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) screener or the Kindergarten W-APT, unless they are transferring from another WIDA state. Students who do not demonstrate proficiency on the screener are identified as an English Learner. Once identified as an English Learner, an Individual Language Plan (ILP) is created that documents the student’s accommodations and strategies necessary in the classroom and on state assessment. ELs receive federally-required English language development instruction and are annually assessed for proficiency from third grade through high school.[4]

English Learners may struggle academically in both K-12 and postsecondary education due to the language barrier. Significant barriers to success exist for this growing and evolving population. A student’s level of English acquisition impacts his/her success in the classroom and eventually in postsecondary education and employment. While this has no forbearance on intelligence, the process of learning to fluently read, write, and comprehend in English may present a significant academic obstacle. Conversely, a student may appear proficient because s/he can participate in conversations, though lack academic proficiency can obstruct interacting meaningfully with classes and curricula. Students developing strong English language skills that can apply in both social and professional settings are critical to postsecondary opportunities in both education and employment.

As the need for multilingual employees grows amongst Indiana’s businesses, these students possess a linguistic fluency, as well as cultural competency, that will be an asset to them after high school. While it is important for these students to become proficient in English, the dichotomy is that fluency in other languages will be equally beneficial to these students in the long-term. These students, as well as potentially their families, present a talent pipeline to fill a growing economic need.

Co-Enrolled Programs: Hoosier English Learners will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities, Activities outside the Plan, andIndividual Servicesfor EL youth.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act – Title III (Federal Program): Title III: Language Instruction for English learners and Immigrant Students of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), ensures that children with limited English proficiency attain English language skills, develop high levels of academic attainment in English, and meet the same challenging state academic content and achievement standards as any other student. With the reauthorization of this federal law as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015, states are able to comprehensively track ELs’ academic progress towards English proficiency.[5] ESSA requires schools to provide English Learners with high-quality English language instruction, as well as high-quality professional development to classroom teachers, principals, and administrators, to promote engagement for English learners and their families. Though this funding is distributed from kindergarten to grade 12, overlap with WIOA’s Core and Partner Programs may still occur, especially in the high school space. ELs are often considered ‘at-risk’ and may access WIOA Title I – Youth programs. As the Combined Plan focuses the receipt of services and resources necessary for long-term success through a systemic lens, we encourage our local Workforce Development Boards to integrate WIOA Title I – Youth and ESEA Title III to increase the academic growth of this student population. As is the case with other at-risk youth groups, though these funding streams have different administrative purposes, the objective of them both is the same – provide equitable early interventions to those students who require additional supports to succeed. Our Workforce Development Boards can work with district superintendents and principals to determine how they can leverage these various funding sources to achieve the same goal.

Indiana’s state-designed long-term goal is for 70% of English learners to attain English language proficiency within six years. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) will support local districts in achieving the state-designed goal by annually identifying schools with fewer than 70% of English Learners attaining proficiency within six years. The IDOE will provide professional development opportunities and targeted individualized technical assistance for those schools with an average timeline of growth to proficiency exceeding six years through its administrative ESEA funds. The IDOE provides a variety of resources and training opportunities to support families, teachers, building and district leaders, local school boards, and communities as they strive to meet the unique academic and social emotional needs of English Learners and their families. The IDOE has created an Indiana EL Guidebook to address key issues which EL students, families, and schools face and provide guidance regarding state and federal policy. The IDOE also facilitates professional development opportunities regarding WIDA implementation, differentiated instruction for English Learners, working with EL newcomers, and other locally-identified areas of concern for schools and districts across Indiana. The IDOE emphasizes the importance of ongoing, high-quality cultural responsiveness training for all staff to maximize the effectiveness of English learner programming, to mediate cultural differences between schools and families, and to engage families of English learners as partners in the education process. Through intensive professional development at the state and/or local levels and partnerships with institutions of higher education, the IDOE aims to improve qualified English learner staff by leveraging comprehensive or targeted support and improvement plans to address English Learner needs.[6]

Though some of these students are recent immigrants and refugees, the vast majority of ELs were born in the United States.[7] A large number of ELs come from families who are non-native English speakers or only speak their native tongues at home. These learners are, therefore, not exposed to English until they enter the education system. Indiana’s Plan for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) established a goal of 70% of our English Learners meet their individual growth targets in achieving English language proficiency as measured by WIDA ACCESS by 2022-23.[8] Recognizing the success of this goal will impact the professional and economic futures of our ELs, we seek to leverage the talent development system and resources to ensure these at-risk students find economic stability and mobility.

Based upon the 2018-2019 school year, $118 was allocated per pupil for a total of 65,847 public and nonpublic EL students, or approximately $8.5 million, through ESEA Title III.[9] According to Indiana’s current ESSA Plan, we focus these funds on ensuring EL and Title III directors receive professional development to assist with teaching this population with cultural understanding and awareness, as well as district-developed plans for core English language development. Shifting the Title III funding from focusing primarily on administrative needs to support English Learner needs to also include all teachers, counselors and other staff and personnel that interact with this population of students can serve as further sources of mentorship and support. Content teachers across disciplines may lack the training on cultural awareness and understanding to best instruct EL students. Title III can help all teachers in all subjects develop the requisite knowledge of the language acquisition process to assist students’ language development throughout the school day. This type of distributed leadership and counseling approach to providing wraparound supports can develop customized interventions to ensure students’ needs are being addressed academically, socially, and emotionally. It is this personalized approach that can encourage students to pursue achieve their goals.

The other goal of ESEA Title III is to promote parental, family, and community participation in language instruction educational programs for the parents, families, and communities of English learners. Family engagement through ESEA Title III can benefit the student’s academic performance, as well as positively influence student attitude and behavior. Additionally, through further systems integration, family engagement in schools allows for families to learn about language acquisition programs for them. Through collaboration between our schools and WorkOnes, local regions can leverage programs supported through ESEA Title III to recruit, identify, and support the EL parents. Through family engagement strategies at our K-12 schools, we can implement an intergenerational approach to language acquisition – students in schools through ESEA Title III and their parents through Adult Education programs of WIOA Title II. Related to this type of systems integration, the Department of Education has a Memorandum of Understanding with Indiana’s National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) (Federal Program) provider, Proteus, to give it data on migrant students and families identified through ESEA Title I, Part C to help recruit parents into employment services.

Expanding the use of Title III to professional development for adapting best practices and academic differentiation may facilitate a rapid acquisition of language proficiency and apply to other interventions that improve all at-risk students’ educational experience. ESEA Title III funds could supplement state and local tuition support for programs and initiatives focused on the following:

  1. Interdisciplinary Curricula: Through inter- or multidisciplinary approaches that contain applied English in all classrooms (similar to the Integrated Education and Training model used in Adult Education). English language learners should not be learning the fundamentals of English in isolation; they should apply their developing language skills to academic content in all subjects. This will require all content instructors to understand their role as language teachers regardless of subject.
  2. Differentiated Instruction: Students learn better when they can engage with material in multiple ways. Lessons that involve writing, speaking, drawing, and listening give students multiple pathways to deepen their understanding of content.  For ELs, this type of engagement allows them to work through their language barriers.[10]
  3. Culturally Responsive Teaching: This involves creating a supportive environment by cultivating an appreciation of diversity, visible both in the curricula and the classroom environment that honors and reflect the lives of the students.
  4. Enculturation: When teachers understand cultural norms and have deeper cultural responsivity, they can empower students to have self-efficacy. This fuses teaching academic skills and social/cultural skills, while being sensitive to a student’s native culture and life stories.

By integrating these strategies into classrooms, we can help all at-risk students needing additional supports to gain a deeper understanding and comprehension of academic knowledge. The above strategies will permeate beyond just ELs’ achievement, thus allowing us to maximize this federal investment for the betterment of all students. Another potential use of ESEA Title III funding includes supplementing support personnel, such as paraprofessionals, to assist ELs. Finding personnel that speaks the students native language is at top priority to maximize the learning experience for students, as well as provide mentorship and guidance. These varying uses of ESEA Title III complement IDOE’s ESSA Plan to help decrease the amount of students who become stuck in the “silent” stage of language learning, eventually becoming long-term English Learners and never master the language skills necessary to acclimate to American society. By providing professional development in these skills and other more age appropriate EL teaching practices, we can help to upskill instructors to benefit all students and allow us to reach our 70% access goal swiftly.

Non-English Speaking Program (State Program): The Non-English Speaking Program (NESP) provides supplemental state funding to eligible school corporations who serve English Learners. NESP funding provides English language instruction to K-12 ELs in order to increase their language proficiency and academic achievement. By executing this intervention as early as possible in the students’ education, we allow time for students to gain English language proficiency before they reach adulthood. Indiana allocates $22.5 million in state funds to this program (with a base of $300 per student) annually. All Indiana school corporations and charter schools are eligible to apply for this funding. The NESP has three specific goals:

  1. Student Performance: English Learners will demonstrate growth in English language acquisition and in academic achievement.
  2. Professional Development: School corporations and charter schools will provide increased opportunities for EL-related professional development to instructional staff.
  3. Family Engagement: School corporations and charter schools will provide additional support to parents of English Learners.

Recipient schools and districts must identify and meet performance indicators related to these specific goals.[11]  These state funds complement the federal Title III funding to provide additional resources to help this subgroup increase its English proficiency and academic achievement.. Through coordination with school districts, this funding can augment early intervention strategies for ELs during their K-12 careers. By braiding the federal and state support dollars, Workforce Development Boards can assist local districts with aligning teacher professional development, assistive technologies, and instructional aids/paraprofessionals to support ELs obtain the academic knowledge and skills required for postsecondary success. The federal funds through ESEA Titles III and IV (Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants) can supplement state-funded programs, which may increase the impact of these programs to also include their families. This may include partnering with WIOA Title II providers for adult English learner classes or community organizations to assist with school and government documentation and public fora to discuss community needs. Community partners may include the Indiana Latino Institute, La Plaza, the Immigrant Welcome Center, migrant parent advisory councils, the Burmese American Community Institute, and other similar stakeholders. By braiding ESEA Title III, the state funds under NESP, and WIOA Title II, school districts and local Workforce Development Boards can increase the co-location of programs that span both children and adults creating a one-stop shop for entire EL families.

Title I –Youth (Core Program): The WIOA Youth Program provides local workforce areas resources to deliver a comprehensive array of youth services that focus on assisting in-school youth with one or more barriers. For ELs, specifically, the lack of English proficiency will impact that student’s ability to attain educational and/or skills training credentials and secure employment with career/promotional opportunities. Once they become proficient in English, these students innately have the asset of being bilingual and often a drive to persist and succeed, given the dual nature of their academics. Because Title III can assist with instructional supports for students, this funding can prioritize the following supports for ELs:

  1. Paid and unpaid work experiences, which include: summer and year round employment opportunities, pre-apprenticeship programs, internships and job shadowing, and on-the-job training;
  2. Occupational skill training;
  3. Leadership development opportunities;
  4. Mentoring (especially by professionals with similar backgrounds);
  5. Follow-up services;
  6. Comprehensive guidance and counseling;
  7. Financial literacy education; and
  8. Entrepreneurial skills training.

English Learners often come from families who have little understanding of the English language or the complex system of applying for postsecondary education or being gainfully employed. ELs face a severe language barrier when trying to apply for FASFA, fill out college applications, earn an apprenticeship, and secure a career. By providing the tools to increase access to college and career opportunities for ELs while they are still in high school, with the additional resources funded through ESSA and the NESP, this next generation of Hoosiers will find it simpler to successfully participate in the workforce and earn family-sustaining wages to benefit themselves, their families, and their communities.

Title II – Adult Education (Core Program): Because ELs may need additional transitional support to either maintain or further their language proficiency, schools should connect their non-native English speaking graduates with local Workforce Development Boards post-graduation. Through WIOA Youth (either in- or out-of-school funds) and Adult Education, local boards can partner with schools to create a ‘summer-bridge’ program to combat any potential melt and to ease the transition from the supportive K-12 environment to that of adulthood. A summer bridge program targeting ELs will prevent a regression in language skills and will keep students on-track to reaching their postsecondary goal (or potentially helping them navigate what opportunities they can tap into after high school). Adult Education will also be helpful for eligible students who have completed their high school diploma but have not yet reached English language proficiency. These English Learners can utilize Adult Education services for English language acquisition services to help provide additional assistance in acquiring English proficiency. We recommend that schools refer high school seniors and high school dropouts who have yet to demonstrate proficiency on the WIDA proficiency scale to Workforce Development Boards to access Adult Education upon leaving the secondary school system to better assist them in attaining language proficiency. 

As discussed above, local Boards can work with schools and districts to connect ESEA Title III with WIOA Title II. Through family engagement activities ESEA Title III must support at K-12 schools, adults needing assistance with English language acquisition could be connected and referred to local Adult Education programs, leveraging one federal program to increase enrollment in another. This also furthers Indiana’s strategy to infuse intergenerational connections throughout our programs.

Potential Eligibility: Additional programs and services a Hoosier EL may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities,Activities outside the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor EL youth.

The Refugee School Impact Grant Program (Federal Program): This grant, provided by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, helps offset some of the costs of educating refugee children incurred by local school districts with high refugee populations. Indiana’s Division of Disability & Rehabilitation under the Family and Social Services Agencies receive approximately $289,000 annually.[12] School districts can use these funds for activities that will lead to effective integration and education of refugee youth. These funds are eligible for school age refugees between the ages of 5 and 18 who are seeking refuge from the following countries: Somalia, Liberia, Congo, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Afghanistan, Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma).[13] 

There are several components of programming within Refugee School Impact Grant funds, which can complement activities funded through ESEA Title III, WIOA Youth, and NESP. These activities can include:

  • Home/School Liaisons: Programs use “home/school liaisons,” or “cultural brokers,” to facilitate communication between students, their parents, and school personnel. Often times, programs hire former refugees for these positions so they can bridge the cultural and linguistic gaps between the home and school.
  • Parent Workshops: Funding can go towards holding workshops, orientation sessions, or focus groups for parents to learn about their children’s school. 
  • Newcomer Programs: School districts with large numbers of refugee students who have experienced an interrupted formal education can use these funds to support any type of newcomer orientation, support, evaluation, or counseling.
  • Academic Enrichment: Programs provide academic support through tutoring during and outside school hours, such as after-school classes, weekend tutorials, and online assistance, as well as providing students with culturally and linguistically appropriate materials, such as special programs or activities, translation services, and interpreter services.
  • Summer Programs: Schools can host summer programs for refugee children for academic enrichment and recreational activities. 
  • Psychosocial/Mental Health Services: Programs provide individual and group counseling and mental health support to help refugee students adjust to their new home and school.
  • Professional Development for Teachers and School Personnel: Funding can provide workshops and training for teachers and school personnel on incoming refugee groups, the impact of the refugee experience on refugee students’ behavior, cultural responsivity, and other strategies.[14] 
     
    Schools and districts finding success in with these activities may want to partner with their local workforce boards to use ESEA Titles I, III, or IV, WIOA Youth, or other state funds to replicate these types of programs for other EL or at-risk students. Since there is overlap between the services for these student subgroups, finding ways to braid funding to replicate and scale successful programs, rather than churn through new and different ones, may positively shift these at-risk students once they graduate high school. These funds, in particular, would be extremely useful in scaling trauma-informed instruction and wraparound supports that will tend to the unique social-emotional needs of this population.
     
    According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, a refugee is defined as “a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country because of a ‘well-founded fear of persecution.’”[15] It is reasonable, by this definition, to assume that our refugee students have experienced some form of trauma that may negatively impact their ability to learn and function in a classroom setting. Refugee children are commonly consumed by the fear of experiencing a flashback or the need to numb themselves from stressors. They may find it difficult to regulate their behavior or process new information because of their past trauma. To improve refugee students’ mental health in the most accessible and effective way, Indiana must support school-based methods to combat the unparalleled type of trauma these students experienced by integrating incongruent programs to maximize the investments. To help overcome these barriers, it is important to make mental health services available. These funds can help embed mental health services into schools to support refugee students and their families, since schools have the inimitable ability to serve as a point of contact with students and families. If schools can provide services in a setting that families are already connected with, it may be easier for students and families to access and utilize these options.[16] This will allow students to better cope with their past trauma and will help them to integrate into this new culture.  Once students are able to feel safe in their new environment, they will be able to accomplish far more academically.
     
    Elementary and Secondary Education Act – Title I, Part C (Federal Program): Title I, Part C: Education of Migratory Children of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), includes funding that oversees three Migrant Regional Centers (MRCs) that operate local and regional migrant education programs. Migrant children can be both migrant workers themselves and/or children of Migrant/Seasonal Farmworkers. Over 1,800 migrant children ages 0-21 received supplementary educational, supportive, and referral services through the Indiana Migrant Education Program (IMEP). A migrant student is any child ages 0-21 who moves across school district lines, either by themselves or with a guardian who is a qualifying migrant worker, often for the purpose of seeking qualifying seasonal or temporary agricultural work. Many migrant students in Indiana are also English Learners. As such, the IDOE, through the Office of English Learning and Migrant Education, combining other services migrant students may need, such as English language development, to ensure the unique language needs of EL migrant students and associated federal requirements are being met. The limited English proficient status of a migrant child is tracked within Indiana’s migrant database to inform educators about the child’s eligibility for other programming and to ensure that the migrant programming meets the needs of the student. The IMEP helps ensure that migratory children overcome educational disruption and other barriers they may face due to the migratory lifestyle. In FY 2020, Indiana will receive approximately $2.4 million in funding through this Title.[17]
     
    The first priority when implementing any programs through ESEA Title I, Part C is the recruitment of students. If students are not recruited through this funding, they likely do not enroll in school. Ensuring migrant children are enrolled is critical component of this program. The IMEP ensures that all migrant students have access to free meals and textbooks. Similarly, migrant students are automatically eligible to access to the core curriculum and other Title I programming, ensuring that Title I, Part C funds are supplemental. The IMEP also offers afterschool and summer programs to migrant students.
     
    As discussed earlier in this section, the Department of Education works with Proteus to identify and recruit migrant families into its employment services programs. One service DOE works with Proteus to offer is mobile language classes offered on buses in the farms. Proteus also provides healthcare and workforce development services to migrant families through these mobile sites. For older youth who are Migrant/Seasonal Farmworkers, they may left school at an early age in order to work with their families in the agriculture sector. These youth often have low literacy and language proficiency skills in their native language, let alone English. Adult Education may not be the right fit for these youth due to these classes being too advanced. The Indiana Department of Education may partner with Proteus to offer lessons focused on life skills and workplace safety, in addition to the mobile language classes. These youth face a different barrier altogether, thus emphasizing the knowledge needed to stay safe, healthy, and secure is the first priority for this subpopulation.
     
    The priority focus for this funding is on identification and recruitment of students, as the IMEP aims to identify and serve 100% of Indiana’s migrant students each year. MRCs employ fulltime, year-round recruiters throughout Indiana to strive to meet this. The MRC recruiters operate on a regional basis to recruit within and across the school districts by utilizing referrals or the work survey. This process supports the identification of enrolled K-12 eligible migratory children. Recruiters frequently visit area businesses, support or service agencies, and local farms while utilizing other resources, such as the National Migrant Hotline, to improve identification of all migrant children, including those who are birth through age two, ages 3-5, K-12, and out of school youth. The recruiters also use Department of Labor statistics to identify farms requesting temporary seasonal workers. Local Workforce Development Boards should be establish strong partnerships with the MRCs to help identify students and migrant adults that may require workforce and/or social services.
     
    Indiana is a receiving state for migrant students, thus the vast majority of Indiana’s migrant students are only present during the summer. For students that remain in the state during the regular school year, MRCs work with school districts to monitor students’ academic progress and to determine the most appropriate supplemental services and support to provide each student. Secondary students’ records are assessed to determine progress on graduation, and students are offered supplemental support and opportunities to take courses they are lacking or wish to take in advance of required timelines. Secondary and Out-of-School Youth students also receive an additional “Individual Migrant Plan,” which evaluates their needs, sets attainable goals for their time in Indiana, and lays out a plan for services to address these individual needs and goals. These individual plans are tailored for students who have dropped out of, or never had access to, the 122 school system; with goals that may include attaining a high school diploma or equivalency, gaining technical skills and training, and increasing English language proficiency. Because many of these students may need Core or Partner Programs as they transition into adulthood, our local boards can receive warm referrals from local school districts of students who may need assistance. Additionally, by co-locating Core and Partner Program staff in schools, students can learn about various benefits they can tap into as they transition out of school.
     
    As a condition of receiving their subgrant, MRCs are required to consult with all districts in their region. Because these students may need additional supports after high school, our local Boards can detail how they may consult with their regional MRCs, as well, discussing the potential services from which migrant students may benefit.
     

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement or supplement these practices through strategic use of ESEA and WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. These practices are Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, the practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our EL Hoosiers in surmounting their unique circumstances.

The Newcomer Program (Community Program): The New Program, part of the Indianapolis Public School district, is the first school in Indiana to specialize in the needs of newcomers to the United States. The Newcomer Program provides students with access to grade-level content standards while developing their English language skills. Students take traditional content area classes with teachers who receive specialized, on-going training in sheltered instruction and best practices for EL students. To ensure academic success and emotional well-being, the program’s staff members who are bi/multilingual, literacy coaches, and social workers. This unique program allows students new to the country to safely integrate into the American education system, keeping in mind that many of these students may be far removed from traditional education or may not have attended any sort of schooling in their country of origin.[18] By taking this model and replicating it in more schools across Marion County, along with schools in Elkhart, Allen, St. Joseph, and Tippecanoe, we hope to serve a larger amount of Hoosier EL students and help them integrate into the educational system and achieve proficiency at a swifter rate.

[1] Indiana Department of Education, 2019. Amendment to Indiana’s Consolidated State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

[2] Indiana Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, December 2016. English Language Learner (ELL) Preparation for Indiana School Educators: A White Paper.

[3] Indiana Public Media, February 2016. Indiana Is Educating More English Language Learners.

[4] Indiana Department of Education, August 2019. English Learner Guidebook.

[5]  American Institute of Research, 2016. What Will ESSA Mean for English Learners?

[6] Ibid.

[7] US Department of Education, November 2019. State Template for the Consolidated State Plan Under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

[8] Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, November 2018.  ESSA, English Learners’ Success, IDOE Priorities and Educator Preparation.

[9] Indiana Department of Education, 2019. 2019-2020 Title III Allocations by LEA.  

[10]  Kaplan, 2019. 6 Essential Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners.

[11] Indiana Department of Education, August 2019. English Learner Guidebook.

[12] Administration for Children & Families, 2015. School Impact Grants.

[13] Indiana Department of Education, 2017. Refugee School Impact Program (RSI).

[14] Bridging Refuge Children and Youth Service, 2018. The Refugee School Impact Grant: Facilitating the Integration of Refugee Children into American Schools.

[15]8 USC 1101: Definitions.

[16] MinneTESOL Journal, Fall 2016. Classroom-Based Supports for Refugee Children Who Have Experienced Trauma,

[17] US Department of Education. Funds for State Formula-Allocated and Selected Student Aid Programs: Indiana.

[18]Enroll Indy, 2019. Newcomer Program Profile.

 

Per WIOA, an individual who is “basic skills deficient” is defined as a youth who has English reading, writing or computing skills at or below the 8th grade level on a generally accepted standardized test.[1]  This could also be a youth who is unable to compute or solve problems or read, write or speak English at a level necessary to function on a job, in the individual’s family, or in society.[2] Though a student may lack proper grade level attainment, s/he will still be promoted to high school. Unfortunately, the skills deficits these students have often negatively impact their academic attainment at the high school level. When these struggles result in poor grade point averages and failed classes, these students may become disengaged with the education system, which could lead to a variety of behavioral issues, including doing the bare minimum in class, arriving late, disrupting the flow of classes, or having poor attendance.

As they get older and fall farther behind, they become a high risk for dropping out of school – more on services for these youth are outlined in both the Adults without a High School Diploma and Low-Income sections.[3] Among those between the ages of 18 and 24, high school dropouts were more than twice as likely as college graduates to live in poverty. Dropouts experienced a poverty rate of 30.8%, while those with at least a bachelor’s degree had a poverty rate of 13.5%.[4] Further dropout statistics show that:

  • Dropouts earn less and contribute fewer tax dollars to the economy. Lifetime income differences between high school graduates and dropouts are estimated at $260,000. From a social perspective, high school graduates provide society with additional tax revenue and reduced public health, crime and justice, and welfare payment costs.
  • Dropouts have increased health costs. Compared to high school graduates, dropouts are more likely to suffer from illness or disability and to die prematurely from cardiovascular disease, cancer, infection, injury, and diabetes.
  • Dropouts ratchet up criminal justice costs. About 41% of inmates in state and federal prisons have less than a high school education. This is evidenced in Indiana by the integration of Adult Education services in our state facilities and county jails.
  • Dropouts are less likely to vote or engage in civic activities. College graduates are nearly three times more likely to vote than Americans without a high school degree. Those without a high school diploma are also least likely be engaged in community involvement, volunteering, or charitable work.[5]
  • Dropouts draw heavily on welfare and public assistance. A dropout will end up costing taxpayers an average of $292,000 over a lifetime due to the price tag associated with public assistance, incarceration, and other factors such as how much less they pay in taxes.[6]

Early intervention for students is key to combat these statistics and ensure every Hoosier finds economic and personal success after high school. It, therefore, becomes necessary to provide interventions to students as soon as possible to keep them on the right track academically and help them to persist to no less than high school graduation attainment.

Students fail 9th grade more than any other grade in high school, and a disproportionate number of students who are held back in 9th grade subsequently drop out. Supporting students as they transition to high school can help combat these issues. High School Transition Activities (HSTAs) can be used to provide support to selected students who are identified as academically behind and needing assistance as they enter high school. Some districts throughout the state have implemented this strategy for all first-year high schoolers, often as a 9th grade academy. These activities may include new student orientation, specific transition interventions to support the academic needs of first-year students, assistance from a student support team, and mentors assigned to help new students.[7] Schools and districts can braid ESEA Titles I or IV and WIOA Title I funds to provide HSTAs for students who exhibit basic skills deficiencies.

Co-Enrolled Programs: Youth who are basic skills deficient will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core Program Activities andActivities Outside of the Plan for those youth.

Title I-Youth (Core Program): This Core Program through WIOA can be used for in-school youth ages 14 to 21 to provide both academic services and wraparound supports to help these students successfully transition from middle to high school. Schools and districts can partner with Workforce Development Board to assist students who are lacking in some of the basic foundational skills as an early intervention. These partnerships could leverage WIOA Youth funds to develop summer bridge programs from middle to high school that focus on academic remediation, individual tutoring, and study skills that may help basic skill deficient students complete the required 40 secondary credits to earn a diploma. This funding can also augment programs supplemented through ESEA Titles I or IV supporting activities such as:

  • Creating individual high school graduation plans, in which school staff helps students develop concrete steps toward graduation, including selection of courses;
  • Developing a 9th grade support team that monitors first-year students’ progress and provided interventions to address any academic or social problems presented by the student; and
  • Providing a yearlong advisory class that provides information and support to succeed in school such as study skills and time management.

After-school or summer programs focused on academics and remediation can provide supplemental education that will increase students’ knowledge and skills and help them reach the appropriate grade level. These programs are another reason co-location in communities is so necessary to reach all Hoosiers. Co-requisite credit recovery classes allow at-risk students to re-take a previously failed course required for high school graduation and earn credit if the student successfully completes the course requirements at the same time a student takes a related course. This strategy is designed to provide a pathway for high school students who have a history of course failure and help them avoid falling further behind in school. High schools most frequently offer credit recovery to specific students on the basis of their academic performance, followed by attendance issues and staff referrals. High schools can provide credit recovery courses in different settings to accommodate student transportation needs. Credit recovery courses may be available online or in alternative settings and can be scheduled at different times to suit the needs of the student.[8] Local Boards could explore enrolling skills and/or credit deficient students into Adult Education programs or using Adult Education instructional models or instructors to provide supplemental support for high school students.

Indiana’s primary WIOA Youth program for in-school youth is JAG. This program does assist basic skill deficient youth and presents another strategy for local Boards and districts partnerships. For these youth, in particular, JAG focuses efforts on academic remediation and/or tutoring, since graduation and academic improvements are a top priority while the students are still in school. For this specific subgroup, JAG emphasizes these 3 youth elements: tutoring, alternative school, and concurrent education.

Many high schools in Indiana may have similar programs already in place for these students. We encourage our local Boards to find ways to support these types of local programs and activities through WIOA Youth funding. Supporting these early interventions for struggling students may have a long-term return on investment for our local Boards by saving future dollars on providing supports and programs for them.

Title II – Adult Education (Core Program): For eligible students who complete a high school diploma but are still deficient in basic skills, Adult Education services post-high school may be needed to ensure that student has the foundational knowledge and skillset necessary for career success. Any student who either does not graduate from high school or graduates with skill deficiencies should be referred directly to Adult Education services upon exiting high school. Adult Education can braid postsecondary Perkins or ESEA funds to create a bridge program for students who earn a high school diploma or equivalency but may still struggle academically in Ivy Tech Community College. The academic skills provided through Adult Education applied to career exploration, work-based learning, or auditing technical courses during this bridge setting can serve to sharpen skills and bring students up to speed before they join the college’s student body. This may cancel the need for remedial courses, saving students time and money and allowing them to achieve a postsecondary credential. Additional information about the remediation and supports Adult Education can provide these youth is described in the Adults without a High School Diploma section of the Plan.

Potential Enrollment: Additional programs and services a Hoosier may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities,Activities outside the Plan,andIndividual Services for youth in this target population.

Carl D. Perkins (Partner Program): To assist youth who are basic skills deficient increase their academic capabilities, schools and districts can use secondary Perkins funds to support academic integration education into career-technical education. In CTE, academic integration means combining technical skill development based on industry standards with content knowledge from related academic subjects (English Language Arts, math, science, or social studies). By integrating CTE and core academics, students who may not have the academic skills for achievement in more theoretical academic environment will have the opportunity to through hands-on, cross-disciplinary projects that tackle real-world problems. This applied approach to academics will help these youth understand the breadth and depth of career opportunities and the associated academic skills (e.g., reading, writing, and math skills). Students would learn academics in a classroom environment that marries academic knowledge and skills with occupational interests. CTE can make education relevant and rigorous. By using our Perkins funding to support our CTE redesign, Indiana will bring together strong academics, career-based learning, and real-world workplace experience into our Programs of Study. As a society, we must recognize that whatever a student’s postsecondary and career aspirations happen to be, that student – regardless of his or her current skill level – will benefit from a Program of Study that incorporates academic knowledge, mastery of technical skill, and opportunities to connect and apply the two.

Title IV – Vocational Rehabilitation (Core Program): For students with an IEP or 504 plan that is not well accommodated, supported, or assisted throughout their early educational experiences, they may end up falling into this category once they are in high school. If a student with a disability does not receive the necessary supports and accommodations to achieve, s/he may not gain the foundational knowledge and skills in elementary and middle school and, therefore, will enter high school behind. There may be an intersection between this subgroup and the youth with disabilities subgroup. Through WIOA, Vocational Rehabilitation can serve high school youth with disabilities through Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). Vocational Rehabilitation case services work in conjunction with a school’s transition services based on individual need. Pre-ETS are open to all students with disabilities ages 14-22 who are in high school without enrolling in Vocational Rehabilitation. Pre-ETS can serve as a supplemental support for these students to explore postsecondary options and opportunities. The experiences and counseling Pre-ETS can offer may help make connections between academia and a student’s occupational interests. Pre-ETS can help provide the following supports for students who are basic skill deficient and have a disability:

  • Job exploration allows students to explore the world of work, explore interests, work with a job mentor, shadow a job or career, investigate careers, etc.
  • Work-based learning experiences provides students with valuable work experience through paid or unpaid work, volunteer, or pre-apprenticeship.
  • Counseling regarding opportunities for enrollment in postsecondary education (associate’s or bachelor’s degree, apprenticeship and trade education, or professional certification) offers students seeking further education after high school to learn more about career paths, obtain college resources, and go on talent tours or campus visits.
  • Work Place Readiness services help students get ready for the challenges of work.  This may include training in soft skills, customer service, work place communication, independent living skills, and accessing transportation.
  • Instruction in Self-Advocacy helps instruct students in self-awareness, disability disclosure, requesting accommodations, understanding rights and responsibilities, self-determination, and mentoring including peer mentoring.

As discussed further in the Youth with Disabilities section, Pre-ETS can fund mentorships between businesspeople with disabilities and students with disabilities. These mentorships would help students learn about different careers, discuss requisite postsecondary education, knowledge, and skills, make industry connections and foster a network, and seek advice and counsel when the need arises. Peer mentors can also assist with instruction in self-advocacy, in addition to offering perspectives on postsecondary opportunities and job explorations. Specifically, through these mentorships, students with disabilities could learn self-advocacy skills and insight from the lived experiences of adults, acumen that would benefit them as they traverse the transition to adulthood.

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement or supplement these practices through strategic use of ESEA and WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. These practices are Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, the practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our youth with basic skill deficiencies in surmounting their unique circumstances.

Project Second Start (Community Program): The City ofEast Chicago, through research by the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University, found that chronically absent public school students performed lower on state assessments and were more likely to drop out of high school before receiving their diploma. This dropout correlation leads to potentially life long struggle to find a good job with a life sustaining wage. East Chicago created Project Second Start, a truancy intervention and prevention program for the students of East Chicago. Community leaders and educators developed this program as a way to address the causes of absenteeism and provides wraparound services for at-risk families. Through Project Second Start, East Chicago educators partner with community organizations to provide specialized services schools could not typically provide on their own. Administrators in East Chicago launched a public messaging campaign to spread the word among students and their families to explain the importance of daily attendance and what to expect if their student falls behind.

Project Rebuild Foundation (Community Program): This truancy intervention and prevention program located in Northwest Indiana works with the Department of Child Services and juvenile courts to reduce truancy by focusing on rehabilitation instead of punishment. This 90-day program that works with both children and families regarding the root causes of truancy. The program has three phases: Rebuild Trust, Family, and Community. Project Rebuild Foundation corrects student’ attendance and behavioral issues in school. It also helps rehabilitate non-dangerous juvenile offenders and restores families. The program maintains a recidivism rate of just 1%, which is vastly lower than the rate of students whose families simply pay the truancy fine without rehabilitation. This program leverages the court process to mandate to get families and communities the help they need to address and eventually circumvent their students’ attendance issues.

[1] WIOA 3(5) (A)(B).

[2]Basic Skills Deficient WIOA POLICY 4.8.

[3] Ganim & Evely. Unmotivated and disengaged.

[4] PBS, 2012. By the Numbers: Dropping Out of High School.

[5] National Education Association. Preventing Future High School Dropouts.

[6] Ibid.

[7] US Department of Education, 2017. Issue Brief: High School Transition Activities.

[8] US Department of Education, 2018. Issue Brief: Credit Recovery.

 

  About 300,000 young people are admitted to detention facilities nationwide on an annual basis, with approximately 20,000 held in detention on any given night.[1] Indiana’s Division of Youth Services reported 808 students serviced and a current enrollment of 337 students; 447 were returned to their communities. Of the students receiving services in 2019:

  • 104 students earned their TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) credential for the purposes of high school equivalency.
  • 8 completed their high school diplomas.
  • 600 students earned high school course credits that are transferable to the school to which they return.
  • Approximately 50% of students reenroll in school (about 221 students).
  • 51 students enrolled in a postsecondary education program.
  • 18% of the students who returned home reported they were employed.

Young adults who have been incarcerated or involved in the justice system have significantly higher educational deficiencies than their non-justice involved counterparts. Fifty-three percent of those in the age group of 18-24 years old did not have a high school diploma (or high school equivalent) prior to release, compared to about one-third (32.8%) in the age group of 25 years old or older. The overall recidivism rate among young adults (age 24 or younger) was over half, though recidivists who did not have a high school diploma or equivalent were consistently re-incarcerated earlier than those who had a high school diploma or equivalent. Post-release employment was the most influential factor to recidivism.[2]

The economic impact of youth recidivism and/or reduced educational and employment opportunities is substantial. Poor outcomes related to reintegration and recidivism of these youth are estimated to cost society $1.5 million for each person who begins criminal activity as a youth and continues throughout life.[3] Nationally, there is a total estimated loss of $78 to $87 billion to the economy every year as a result of people with criminal records being unemployed or underemployed.[4]

Research illustrates that for this at-risk youth subgroup to find success in adulthood and avoid recidivism, they must receive a high-quality education that prepares them well for all postsecondary options.[5] Providing foundational academic, technical, and employability skills has important implications for a youth’s long-term life experiences and well-being, including employment, income, and health. Unfortunately, youth involved in the juvenile justice system experience numerous challenges to receiving a quality education. Juvenile offenders often do not have access to the same educational opportunities as their non-delinquent counterparts.

Addressing the educational barriers for juvenile offenders is a crucial need to assist in a successful post-release trajectory. This includes access to age and developmentally appropriate coursework, resources, such as textbooks and technology, and highly-qualified instructors that understand the specific needs of high-risk youth. Among incarcerated juveniles, the most significant obstacles are related to deficiencies in education and lack of adequate job skills. Education and employment greatly reduce a youth’s likelihood of post-release recidivism.[6]

A prominent systematic barrier for juvenile offenders is insufficient coordination both federal and state across agencies with policies pertaining to this subgroup. Approximately two-thirds of youth do not return to school after their release from secure custody. Failure to re-enroll can be caused by delays in transfer of education records and incompatible record or credit transfer policies across juvenile justice agencies and school districts. The inefficiencies in information sharing can also lead to a youth’s delayed access to services while in a facility or during his/her re-entry period. This is often most pronouncedly felt by the intersecting population between juvenile offenders and youth with disabilities.[7] The Indiana Department of Correction estimates that about 50% of Hoosier juvenile offenders have a disability, an emotional disturbance or a learning disability. Any delays in accommodations or supports can significantly impact a student’s educational outcomes and re-enrollment prospects.

Re-enrollment in school is one of the most important transitional services for youth at the time of release from a juvenile correctional facility. The transition from incarceration back to the community is often stressful for youth. This stress is compounded by other potential barriers, such as returning to the same high-risk environment that contributed to the youth’s initial delinquency, struggling to catch up academically, being stigmatized and marginalized due to system involvement, lacking social support and financial resources, and having difficulty navigating the complex re-entry system. Effective interventions to prevent recidivism are those that help build youth’s academic, behavioral, social, and technical skills.[8]

There are a number of juvenile treatment interventions available to Hoosier youth while incarcerated, but the need for continued focus on obtaining degrees and certificates while incarcerated, as well as building connections to post-incarceration employment, are necessary steps to ensure the long-term success of this subgroup. Indiana strives to connect programs and data available to organize and align the success of services. Transitions from school to work and school to postsecondary education can be difficult for anyone, let alone a justice-involved youth. One such way this is done is through local delinquent programs. The local delinquent programs collaborate with local school systems so that the lower-level offenders have a better connection to the school system and hopefully re-integrate or assimilate back into the traditional education system. We will continue to explore ways to enhance transitional services to ensure that the most appropriate services are available to help youth connect to their goals.

Co-Enrolled Programs: Juvenile offenders will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities and Activities outside of the Plan for those youth.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act – Title I, Part D (Federal Program): Youth who are juvenile offenders are particularly vulnerable to academic challenges and failure, subsequent involvement in the justice or other social service systems, and sustained poverty. Local facilities primarily use ESEA Title I, Part D: Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent or At Risk funds for personnel costs for instructional and supplemental teachers and counselors. The Indiana Department of Education has three goals in the administration of the Title I, Part D program:

  1. Improve educational services in local or state institutions for neglected and delinquent children and youth in order to provide equal access and opportunity to meet the challenging Indiana Academic Standards;
  2. Improve youth transition from institutionalization to further school or employment; and
  3. Prevent at-risk youth from dropping out, and provide youth returning from correctional facilities or institutions for neglected and delinquent children and youth with a reentry support system to ensure their continued education and involvement of their families and communities.[9]

In the design of a Title I, Part D program, the recipient of these supplemental funds must describe transitional activities, including high school equivalency testing, counseling, placement programs for postsecondary institutions, assistance with financial aid, and job placement. Even with these funds, many coordinators report that facilities do not have enough qualified instructional and support staff, including teachers, within credentialed content area to effectively support students’ needs. Nationally, 91% of juvenile justice coordinators, and 79% of child welfare coordinators report that decisions about how to use ESEA Title I, Part D funds were often based on whether the budget aligned with activities identified under the state’s federal plan for ESEA.[10]

Both state and local use of ESEA Title I, Part D must include a strategic and focused effort on delivering high-quality educational opportunities and credentials for students to complete the appropriate grade-level coursework while involved with the juvenile justice system, which includes special education accommodations and resources, as needed. In addition, there is a lack of tracking and reporting data, which track student success both within the facilities and through re-entry programs. Over the next two years, a more robust transition and tracking plan must be developed to ensure justice-involved youth receive the education necessary to transition to additional postsecondary education and training or employment upon exit. Title I, Part D funds paired with other programs below can enhance the opportunities available for justice-involved youth. Additionally, neglected or delinquent children are categorically eligible for participation in the ESEA Title I, Part A program and these funds are available to coordinate such services under the Title I, Part D program. The Indiana Department of Education requires LEAs to set-aside part of the their Title I, Part A funding for neglected children based upon the number of neglected children served by the LEA. This funding can be paired with Title I, Part D to better serve this population.

Carl D. Perkins (Partner Program): Currently, Indiana grants $150,000 of Perkins funding to the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) to utilize for equipment and machinery for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. Next fiscal year, the Office of CTE will extend an additional $100,000 in Perkins funding to IDOC specifically for youth services. Currently, youth have access to limited vocational programming with little variety of opportunities. This additional funding can provide an opportunity for technical skills training to be integrated with core academic programs to better engage youth in career exploration activities, the ability to connect classroom work and hands-on experiences, and drive more justice-involved youth to completing their high school diplomas by providing them with an opportunity to see more relevance in their academic programming. Additionally, it can support increasing access to quality instructors and growing Integrated Education and Training programs that merge core academics with technical skills. Investing a portion of Perkins Leadership funds into our juvenile offenders is an immediate strategy Indiana will implement as a prevention too against youth’s future recidivism by promoting greater educational and economic opportunities.

Title I-Youth (Core Program): Through WIOA Youth, local Workforce Development Boards have the ability to develop innovative strategies to improve labor market and skills outcomes for WIOA priority groups, which includes juvenile offenders. These funds can accelerate skill development, education, and employment assistance in promoting local best practices to access talent. While youth are in detention facilities, hey can serve as a complement to the funding streams above – ESEA Title I, Part D and Perkins can help supplement academic and technical skill development, with WIOA Youth providing employability skill support, mentoring, career exploration, and other wraparound supports. Local Boards could utilize either WIOA In-School or Out-of-School Youth to help fund or create programs, adapting models like JAG or Youth Assistance, which can operate in detention facilities or specifically target juvenile offenders as they re-enter their communities and schools.

Local Boards can convene local stakeholders, including schools, employers, community organizations, and state agencies, to create a system that braids various federal and state programs and funding streams together to intervene with juvenile offenders and prevent future criminal activity and recidivism. The US Department of Education created the model below for adult offenders. Our local Boards can lead the development of similar, locally-grown and nuanced strategies for this particular subgroup:

Sustainability for juvenile offenders

[11]

The agencies that comprise the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet will also work with local Boards to explore ways that WIOA Youth and other federal and state funds can leveraged to provide assistance to youth in transitioning from a juvenile facility to other Core, Partner, or state programs post-release. The ability to connect to the workforce system and to explore opportunities for employment will be a key to help with recidivism.

Title II-Adult Education (Core Program): States may use up to 20% of Title II funds to provide adult education programs for incarcerated individuals. Currently, IDOC dedicates $750,000 received from WIOA Title II towards programming for educational services for adult offenders. We will explore ways to potentially extend this funding and services into the juvenile justice space to support students towards earning a high school equivalency. For those youth that exit a juvenile detention center without their high school diploma, connecting to an adult education provider to earn their high school equivalency is a crucial need if they are not returning to a K-12 school system. The state can look for ways to strengthen the relationship between WIOA Title II funding and transitional supports that are provided to youth as they exit juvenile facilities.

WIOA statute uses slightly different definitions to describe the criteria for in-school youth (ISY) and out-of-school youth (OSY) who are eligible, because they have been subject to any stage of the criminal justice process. The intent of the OSY eligibility criteria is not to treat youth who were subject to the juvenile or adult system differently, but rather to call attention to the fact that both juvenile and adult justice systems may include OSY.[12] Individuals who meet the respective program eligibility requirements may participate in WIOA Adult and Youth programs concurrently. Attendance at an education institution may determine the right programmatic fit based on what the local WorkOne case manager determines. Braiding funds allows a WIOA youth program to provide inclusive services and maximum resources available to help youth.

WIOA Youth and Title II Adult Education program can provide complementary services to juvenile offenders and can be used together to serve eligible youth ages 16-24 where each programs age eligibility overlaps. The connected use of these programs can help youth meet their education goals under Title II Adult Education with supportive services for employment provided by Title I Youth.

As discussed further in the Ex-Offender section, either WIOA Adult/Youth or Adult Education can connect juvenile offenders with two federal education programs – the Second Chance Pell Program  and Ability to Benefit (AtB) (Federal Programs). Second Chance Pell allows for ex-offenders to access federal grant money for postsecondary education. Institutions provide Pell Grants to qualified students who are incarcerated and likely to be released within five years of enrolling in coursework. Currently, Indiana has one institution that was selected as a Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, the Westville Educational Initiative (WEI). With the flexibility to use Pell for vocational formats in addition to associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs, Indiana intends to expand the use of Second Chance Pell to offer more options of postsecondary education in its state facilities and through more postsecondary institutions throughout the state. Second Chance Pell can be paired with the AtB flexibility, which allows individuals without a secondary diploma to access federal financial aid, potentially addressing two barriers ex-offenders face preventing educational attainment. AtB allows WIOA Title II can fund academic remediation towards a high school equivalency for ex-offenders concurrently with enrollment in postsecondary courses with Pell Grants allowed through both federal flexibility offerings.

Wagner-Peyser (Core Program): Wagner-Peyser can offer juvenile offenders assistance for job search and placement activities, as well as career coaching (either in-person or virtually). Local Boards could pioneer virtual chatting through a chatbox feature with a career coach as a way to increase accessibility to WorkOnes. Funds can focus on career counseling, connection to educational opportunities, and work–based learning environments to offer a more gradual entrance into the workforce. Working with these youth to establish education’s connection to self-sustainability and confidence while offering a path to employment will be the focus of Wagner-Peyser staff and their connection to juvenile offenders and employers providing work-based learning opportunities. 

Potential Eligibility: Additional programs and services a Hoosier may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities,Activities outside the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor adults in this target population.

Title IV-Vocational Rehabilitation (Core Program): Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies are required to set aside federal funds for the provision of Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) to assist students with disabilities between the ages of 14 and 22 who are eligible or potentially eligible for VR services. Pre-ETS ensures students have access to meaningful career planning in order to help create a seamless transition from high school to employment or postsecondary training. As many of our Hoosier juvenile offenders may have a disability, and therefore a related Individual Education Plan or 504 Plan, the Indiana Department of Education (DOE), IDOC, and Family and Social Services of Indiana (FSSA) will work together to align and develop an agreement that will allow for the evaluation of incarcerated students and for IDOC to utilize Pre-ETS funding toward assisting youth eligible for services.

 Leveraging the success of Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry (HIRE) (State Program), we plan to utilize the convening power of the GWC to explore a cross-agency collaborative effort to utilize the core tenets of the Pre-ETS program (job exploration counseling, work-based learning experiences, counseling on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or postsecondary educational programs, workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living; and instruction in self-advocacy) paired with WIOA Youth funding to provide juvenile offenders that may have a disability with more robust transitional services and mentoring opportunities than they may currently receive pre-release. This will provide an opportunity for these youth to have a clearer plan for the post-release education and training or employment prospects.

IDOC Education and Supportive Services: Indiana juvenile facilities have access to programs like the ones listed below in order to assist with education and post-release employment. Some of those programs are as follows:

  • Juvenile Classification and the Comprehensive Case Management System (State Program): This begins with the process of estimating students’ likelihood to continue criminal behavior by identifying their level of risk to reoffend within the community. Classification decisions are then made based upon risk assessment and security levels necessary to ensure public safety. In addition, a needs assessment, along with a variety of additional individualized assessments, is used to identify criminogenic needs, level of responsivity, and individual problem areas which require intervention. Individual Growth Plans are developed matching a student’s needs. Student’s progress through their treatment programs by increasing their pro-social skills and abilities. A majority of programming occurs during the student’s time at a facility, treatment gains must be maintained when the student returns home.
     
  • Moral Reconation Therapy (State Program): MRT seeks to decrease recidivism among juveniles by increasing moral reasoning. MRT targets youth who are high risk to re-offend and/or are high risk in pro-criminal sentiments, criminal thinking, criminal lifestyle, and anti-social attitudes/values. MRT also address addiction recovery issues. MRT focuses on seven basic treatment issues: confrontation of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors; assessment of current relationships; reinforcement of positive behavior and habits; positive identity formation; enhancement of self-concept; decrease in hedonism and development of frustration tolerance; and development of higher stages of moral reasoning.
     
  • The Why Try Learning Strategies Program (State Program): Why Try is division of youth service’s core treatment education program. Why Try is brief, solutions-focused treatment with a strengths-based approach to helping youth overcome their challenges, achieve positive goals, practice life skills, and develop plans and support for re-entering their community.
     
  • The Last Mile (Philanthropic Program): The Last Mile (TLM) was created in California in 2014 to equip offenders with relevant job skills to propel them into tech careers when they are released. Indiana was the first state outside of California to adopt this successful coding program. The core curriculum includes HTML/CSS and JavaScript, WordPress, Node, AngularJS, React, and D3.js. Beyond these technical coding skills, they are also learn about how businesses function, working as a team, giving and accepting constructive criticism, building confidence, and how to pivot when they are heading in the wrong direction. Participants can also work on client-funded projects including website development and application, giving participants a chance to demonstrate the skills they’ve learned and create a referenceable portfolio of work. It develops highly marketable personal and professional skills that are relevant and competitive.
     
    Indiana currently has TLM operating in one of its male juvenile detention facilities. In August of that year, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited the facility to see a successful Last Mile classroom.[13] The program at the facility was funded by a $2 million grant from Google. Since 2015, 33% of Indiana juveniles who were released were incarcerated again, according to the state’s Department of Corrections 2018 report. Of the program’s graduates none have reoffended.
     
    The Last Mile is recognized nationally and was a central focus of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board Meeting held at the Women’s Prison in December 2019. It sets the model that that re-entry transitioning must begin during incarceration and continue post-release with the end result of gainful employment.
     
  • Voices (State Program): Voices is a female specific program of self-discovery and empowerment.  It encourages girls to seek and celebrate their “true selves” by giving them a safe space, encouragement, structure, and support to embrace their important journey of self-discovery.  The focus is on issues that are important in the lives of adolescent girls from modules about self and connection with others to exploring health living and the journey ahead. The curriculum uses a variety of therapeutic approaches, including psycho-educational, cognitive-behavioral, expressive arts, and relational theory.  It is based upon the Interactive Journaling system from Change Companies.
    • Youth students attend fully accredited school daily and may earn credits, or are referred to the TASC track if they qualify, including taking the TASC in detention. 
    • Youth receive career counseling and transition back-to-school/to-work consultations. 
    • Youth are each assigned a correctional counselor/case manager who manages their case plan (Individual Growth Plan) and Individual Aftercare Plan (IAP), including designing, implementing, and reviewing progress in individual and group (programming) interventions.
        

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement or supplement these practices through strategic use of ESEA and WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. These practices are Activities outside the Plan occurring in pockets throughout Indiana. While not a comprehensive list, these practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our juvenile offenders in surmounting their unique circumstances.

Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (Philanthropic Program): Indiana joined the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) in 2006. JDAI is a bipartisan effort with public, private, and community partnership for juvenile justice system improvement. The initiative focuses on the reallocation of public resources from mass incarceration toward investment in youth, families, and communities. JDAI focuses on data-driven policies for positive reform which data Indiana continues to evaluate for best alignment of services. Since 2006, JDAI has expanded to twenty-nine counties. Marion County joined the JDAI in 2006, becoming the first JDAI site in Indiana.  By the end of 2016, the County had reduced admissions to detention by 66.4% and the average daily population in detention had fallen by 40.8%. During this same period of time, IDOC commitments were decreased by 52.5% and the number of felony petitions filed has also been reduced by 59.6%. Marion County has saved millions of taxpayer dollars previously used for incarceration, through the use of less expensive and more effective community-based alternative supervision programs for youth. At the end of 2016, Indiana JDAI Counties overall experienced a 53% reduction in admissions to secure detention, a 41% reduction in the average daily population in secure detention, a 47% decline in felony petitions filed, and IDOC commitments were down from 634 during the counties’ baseline years to 367 a 42% reduction.

Youth Assistance (State Program): The Hamilton County Youth Assistance Program was developed in the fall of 2009 in Westfield, Indiana. In a desire to be proactive in assisting the healthy development of Hamilton County youth and their families, Youth Assistance offers the following services to participants:

  • Referral to services for mental health counseling, medication management and parenting support classes for youth and families
  • Coordination with mentoring programs
  • Family/youth case management
  • Food, clothing and financial assistance
  • Camp and recreation opportunities
  • Tutoring assistance
  • Attendance and truancy support

Youth Assistance expanded to Noblesville, Fishers, Hamilton Heights, Carmel, and Sheridan. Early Intervention Advocates in each community work under the appointment of Hamilton County Judges.The Program was modeled after the successful Oakland County, Michigan Youth Assistance Program, which began in 1953.[14] Funding is a private-public partnership involving Youth Assistance Board Members, Hamilton County, and the cities of Westfield, Noblesville, Fishers, and Carmel, as well as the Hamilton Heights and Sheridan communities. Additionally, the program boasts a close partnership with the school corporations of Westfield-Washington, Noblesville, Hamilton Southeastern, Carmel Clay, Sheridan, and Hamilton Heights. The Central Indiana Community Foundation Legacy Fund was instrumental in the development and expansion of the Youth Assistance Program.

The Youth Assistance Program was highlighted in Senate Bill 596 in 2019 and codified under Indiana Code § 31-32-3-12 for additional pilots, however, neither funding nor appropriation was attached. The Indiana Department of Education has worked with ICJI to expand this program to more additional locations. WIOA Youth funding could provide an avenue for integrating this promising program into the workforce system. Due to the program’s engagement with youth to encourage positive social behaviors and that help connecting youth and their families to useful resources aimed at education, training, employment, and wrap around supports, local workforce development boards will be made aware of the program and expansion opportunities.

Youth Build (Federal Program): More than 40 states utilize WIOA to fund Youth Build, a community-based alternative education program that helps at-risk youth obtain GEDs and industry-recognized employment credentials. Indiana has Youth Build programs in Indianapolis, Evansville, and Gary. We encourage local boards to find ways to partner and scale youth build programs to assist at-risk youth in connecting to educational opportunities. As at-risk youth transition in and out of programs, it is important to have cross-trained staff that are aware of Youth Build and other supports that are in place to help this population find success based upon their individual goals. If this program make sense in lieu of other workforce programs, proper referrals need to be made.

Indiana Choices - Marion County (Community Program): This program serves children with behavioral disorders and serious emotional disturbances who have been referred by the child welfare or juvenile court systems. Coordinators, case managers, probation officers, and teachers work together to provide community-centered support in many ways, including accessing resources outside of the state approved service standards and expanding access to flexible funding for basic needs. Indiana Choices strives to prevent juveniles from further contact with the juvenile system. Leveraging the collaboration across the state agencies on the GWC, there are opportunities to provide more integrated transitional services for this population to the workforce system. As this is a local program, better connectivity to this and similar programs is something we can encourage our regional workforce boards to pursue.

Indianapolis Metropolitan High School (MetIndy) / Jobs for American Graduates (JAG) Pilot Program (Public-Private Program): The Department of Workforce Development (DWD), which administers JAG, will work with MetIndy to utilize combined efforts to assist youth at the high school level. There are many challenges facing young adults that can make completion of high school or securing a job difficult, including prior contact with the juvenile justice system. For many, it is hard to see what the role of education is and how it relates to the jobs they will need to support themselves. Young adults also often lack the employability skills they need to secure and/or maintain employment. Students that have been involved with the juvenile justice system will be selected to participate in an after-school JAG program designed to bring additional resources for skills and access to employment for students, as well as education support services for youth families. JAG will meet with the youth prior to separation from the justice system. 

Collaborative Care (State Program): Indiana offers extended foster care services, Collaborative Care (CC), to young adults leaving the juvenile system. In order for juvenile detention youth to be eligible for CC they must have a court order for out of home placement and be placed in a federally recognized “foster care” setting by their 18th birthday. Juvenile detention youth must be 18 years of age with a closed juvenile case to participate in CC, as well as meet the CC eligibility requirements. Once it is determined the former juvenile offender meets the requirements, s/he can enter into a CC agreement with the Department of Child Services (DCS) by signing the Voluntary Collaborative Care Agreement. The agreement will be filed with the court. During the hearing the court will officially order the youth into CC. While participating in CC youth will receive services in the following areas: employment, education, housing, financial & asset management, activities of daily living, and authentic youth engagement. The young adults can participate in CC until the day before his/her 21st birthday. While this service is not available for juvenile detention youth while they have an open case, the state can explore a more collaborative relationship between IDOC and IDCS to facilitate more referrals into the program.

DOC and DWD Collaboration Pilot (State Program): IDOC and DWD already have a Memorandum of Understanding to establish general conditions and joint processes for ex-offenders. Indiana will expand this relationship at the local level to ensure juvenile offenders supervised by DYS have information about the state’s workforce system. We will encourage our Workforce Developments Boards to pilot a project that expands workforce services to juvenile offenders before re-entry into the community. This will include follow-up services after re-entry to better assist with educational goals and employment opportunities.

[1] Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2017. Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.

[2] Klinker et al, 2017. Exploring the Importance of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (2014) to Correctional Education Programs for Incarcerated Young Adults.

[3] National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability, 2010. Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth

Involved in the Juvenile Justice System: Practical Considerations.

[4] Bucknor et al., 2016. The Price We Pay: Economic Costs of Barriers to Employment for Former Prisoners and People Convicted of Felonies.

[5] Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, Education and Interagency Collaboration: A Lifeline for Justice-Involved Youth.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Indiana Department of Education, 2019. Amendment to Indiana’s Consolidated State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

[10] U.S. Department of Education, 2019. Promoting Education and Transition Success for Neglected and Delinquent Youth: An Evaluation of the Title I, Part D Program.

[11] US Department of Education. Reentry Education Toolkit.

[12] Department of Labor, 2016. TEGL 21-16: Title I Youth Program Formula Guidance.

[13] Indianapolis Star, 2019. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos touts ‘Second Chances’ for young Indiana inmates learning to code.

[14] Hamilton County Youth Assistance Program.

 

Parenthood is one of the leading causes for dropping out of high school among female youth. A teen birth can disrupt an individual’s educational and career goals, significantly impacting her earning potential and future family finances. Only 50% of teen mothers earn a high school diploma by age 22, compared to 90% of women without a teen birth.[1] Additionally, teen parents are more likely to rely on public assistance and be low-income as adults. They are also more likely to have children who have poorer educational, behavioral, and health outcomes over the course of their lives than do children born to older parents.[2]

Additional statistics for teen parents include:

  • More than two out of three young single mothers are ages 18 to 24 are poor and almost half of their children are poor.
  • Young women who give birth while attending a community college are 65% less likely to complete their degree than women who do not have children during that time.
  • Only 2% of young teen mothers (aged 17 and younger) and 3% of older teen mothers (aged 18 to 19) earn a four-year college degree by the age of 30, compared with 9% of women who had their first child at age 20-21.
  • About 25% of teen moms have a 2nd child within 24 months of their first baby.
  • More than half of all mothers on welfare had their first child as a teenager. Two-thirds of families begun by a young, unmarried mother are poor.[3]
  • Teen fathers have a 25 to 30% lower probability of graduating from high school than teenage boys who are not fathers.
  • Young fathers are more likely to have economic and employment challenges and are more often economically disadvantaged than adult fathers.[4]

The low educational attainment of parenting/pregnant teens is also tied to barriers to employment. About 60% of all young parents report at least one jobless period during 2013. Additionally, the wages of young parents are typically low. The average hourly wage of young parents was $10.19 per hour with an annual income of $16,200. Lower access to education and employment also led to young parents being more reliant on public support, especially SNAP and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).[5]

Parenting and/or pregnant teens impacts the mothers’ and fathers’ education, but it also has an intergenerational impact. Research shows that children of teen mothers often not only start school at a disadvantage, but they also fare worse than those born to older parents throughout their education. Children of teen mothers are 50% more likely to repeat a grade and are more likely than children born to older mothers to drop out of high school.[6] Only about two-thirds of children born to teen mothers earn a high school diploma, compared to 81% of their peers with older parents.[7] Other risks children born to teen parents include:

  • Babies have a higher risk for low birth weight and infant mortality.
  • Babies have lower levels of emotional support and cognitive stimulation.
  • These children are more likely to have behavioral problems and chronic medical conditions.
  • These children and families are more likely to rely on publicly funded health care.
  • These children have higher rates of foster care placement.
  • Offspring’s are more likely to be incarcerated at some time during adolescence.
  • Lastly, children of teen pregnancy are more likely to repeat the cycle of teen pregnancy.[8]

Teen pregnancy costs U.S. taxpayers about $11 billion per year due to increased healthcare, foster care, and incarceration rates among children of teen parents, as well as lost tax revenue due to lower educational and income attainment amongst teen mothers. In Indiana, each publicly funded birth costs taxpayers $10,460 for maternity care and infant care through the first year. Teen childbearing in Indiana costs taxpayers at least $227 million in 2010.[9]

To boost the economic stability of teen parents and reduce the economic impact on taxpayers, we need more Hoosier parenting and/or pregnant teens to complete their secondary education and enroll in postsecondary training and education. Supporting teen parents to complete high school and prepare for college requires multiple academic supports and opportunities. These goals should be woven into all aspects of the academic curricula and supports provided to pregnant and parenting teens.

Integral to increasing educational attainment of this subgroup is the inclusion of specific resources and wraparound supports, including:

  • Providing quality, affordable childcare;
  • Offering trained counselors (or connecting teen parents to counselors) to support and guide them in navigating the complex challenges encountered in school, relationships, and parenting;
  • Informing young parents about childcare resources and programs that may be available for student parents who are enrolled in college, including campus childcare where it is available; and
  • Linking teen parents to wraparound services, such as housing, transportation, income support programs, and health care for themselves and their children.
     

Co-Enrolled Programs: Parenting and/or pregnant youth will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities for those youth.

Title I –Youth (Core Program): This program can help support both secondary and postsecondary educational attainment for parenting/pregnant youth. For a youth in high school who may be pregnant or parenting, earning a high school diploma is her first step. Programs funded through WIOA Youth, like JAG, can help address many of the barriers above to complete their high school education.  Peer workshops that build on adolescent’s self-esteem along with one-on-one guidance, counseling, and advising from supportive adults can help provide supportive services and encourage students persist in completing their education. These programs can also help students find postsecondary options and education that will best benefit themselves and their children.

As displayed below, many teen parents do earn their secondary degree but do not complete a postsecondary credential.

 

Educational attainment of young parents

[10]

To help pregnant/parenting teens succeed in secondary and postsecondary education, WIOA Youth can braid with ESEA Title I to provide intensive academic supports and opportunities in high school for this subgroup. Supporting teen parents to complete high school and prepare for college requires multiple academic supports and opportunities. This goal can be woven into the following activities:

  • Develop individualized learning plans, track students’ attendance and performance, and intervene with academic supports (e.g., tutors and mentors) and other supports (counselors) where needed;
  • Provide guidance and support to prepare for college entrance exams including tutors, mentors, and SAT/ACT preparation classes;
  • Offer dual credit or enrollment classes to introduce students to college-level courses and increase their confidence, knowledge, and skills;
  • Expose students to positive college experiences; and
  • Offer bridge programs between high school graduation and the start of college that introduce students to college guidance counselors, financial aid officers, faculty, and college students who are (or were) teen parents.
     
    WIOA Youth can assist teen parents in the transition to higher education. It can offer programs in high school to complement ongoing academic instruction with weekly classes or workshops covering the college application process, time management skills, and self-confidence. It can provide college tours for young parents to increase exposure to different opportunities. College and career coaching, as well, can help teen parents choose the option (e.g., short-term certification or credential, associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or a registered apprenticeship) that fits their goals, interests, needs, and family. Enrollment in higher education as a near-term goal can instill parenting/pregnant youth with a sense of accomplishment, impelling longer-term success. Incorporating an opportunity to earn an income while enrolled - through a paid internship, the Federal Work Study program, or a part-time job, may also increase the likelihood of teen parents persisting through their studies. If the opportunity to earn can complement learning, through work-based learning, we can remove a significant barrier for teen parents. They can balance both personal aspirations with family responsibilities.
     
    Other strategies to help increase postsecondary attainment among this subgroup could also include:
  • Discussing federal and state financial aid opportunities s/he may be eligible for, as well as assisting with selection of majors and courses and linking them to academic and other services and supports, including childcare, housing, and transportation;
  • Incorporating messages about the usefulness and importance of postsecondary education into all aspects of the program and train professional staff (e.g., case managers, teachers, and counselors) to engage teen parents on this topic;
  • Providing peer workshops to build adolescents’ self-esteem and reinforce the importance of postsecondary education, particularly with successful adults with similar experiences; and
  • Offering one-on-one guidance, counseling, and advising from supportive adults to reinforce the message about the importance of postsecondary education and provide assistance when teens encounter difficulties in school, relationships, work, or parenting; these professionals may be case managers, teachers, guidance counselors, or life skills coaches.
     

Teen parents are often denoted as custodial or non-custodial parents through Indiana’s Child Support Program, which is a partnership between the Indiana Child Support Bureau (CSB), a division of the Department of Child Services (DCS), and the 92 county prosecutors, clerks, and courts. If parents do not provide child support, it can further the cyclical nature of poverty in many of our communities and further splinter communities with potential incarceration. Connecting both custodial and non-custodial parents with opportunities to obtain postsecondary credentials as a means of earning higher wages through stable employment helps with current economic needs and also prevention of future economic instability in these families. As a tool to get Hoosiers the support needed to make child support payments and avoid enforcement actions, local county programs can compel non-custodial parents to make appointments at WorkOnes for career and employment services. To fulfill this requirement, WorkOnes can enroll non-custodial parents into Wagner-Peyser services, at a minimum, to assist with career counseling and creating employment plans. This is just a first step in providing awareness and information into the various training programs and opportunities Hoosiers can access at little to no cost. WorkOnes can then co-enroll teenaged custodial or non-custodial parents into WIOA Youth or Title II for additional services, such as education and training opportunities, obtaining a high school equivalency, or other employment services.

Affordable, quality childcare is important to keeping teen parents on track for high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment. Counselors through WIOA Youth programs can assist or guide teen parents in securing childcare for the children of program participants. WIOA dollars, as well as other childcare grants (such as the Child Care and Development Fund, Head Start, or On My Way Pre-K) can help support childcare costs, as well. Given the statistics for academic achievement of children born from teen pregnancy, access to early education programing can help boost education skills, knowledge, and development for the next generation, helping establish a strong foundation for these children’s education and health.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Federal): Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) can potentially be a very beneficial source for pregnant and parenting teens, particularly those pursuing postsecondary education and training. TANF E&T funds can bolster skill building activities through either an eligible training provider or a postsecondary institution. In conjunction with WIOA Youth, this fund can help increase employer partnerships with workforce and social service agencies. By allowing recipients to pursue postsecondary education for the full TANF eligibility period, the federal funds will support the family as a teen parent gain credentials. Earning a credential will assist that youth in securing higher wages and a sustainable career path.[11] As we explore ways to coalesce our IMPACT program with our WorkOne system, we can allow for postsecondary education activities, such as class, study time and federal work study, to count towards TANF work requirements, allowing this population to continue to utilize this funding until graduation completion. 

In addition to supporting education and training, TANF can be used to help with supportive services teen parents may need, such as housing, transportation, and childcare. One way we could expand our use of TANF would be to offer teen parents lessons for positive parenting and family planning approaches. Young fathers at the City University of New York Fatherhood Academy participate in parenting sessions twice a week, discussing parenting issues, as well as topics around their experiences as young men and how that influences them as parents, in addition to other academic and wraparound supports. This type of integrative strategy to academics and parenting guidance has positively impacted participants’ relationships with mothers and families.[12]

Co-locating our social services programs, like SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid, in schools and districts can facilitate students and families access to these necessary supports. Rather than relying solely on a guidance counselor or social worker, embedding programmatic staff or using an itinerantstaffing model between social services and schools will give at-risk students and their families additional sources for information and resources. Increasing the accessibility to information and resources through expanded partnerships and co-location could benefit this population immensely. As we aim to integrate our education, workforce, and social services, local regions can adapt different co-location strategies to Local regions could also pursue ways to cross-train school and district personnel to learn more about various social programs from which at-risk youth may benefit.

Potential Enrollment: Additional programs and services a Hoosier may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities,Activities outside the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor youth in this target population. This particular at-risk subgroup overlaps extensively with some of our other target populations, such as single parents, low-income youth, and foster care.[13] Teen parents may be eligible for specific programs unique to those populations, as well as those identified in this section.

Women, Infants, and Children’s Program (Federal Program): The Women, Infants, and Children’s Program (WIC) is a supplemental food and nutrition program for pregnant women, new moms, and children under age five. It provides financial assistance in purchasing food, counseling, and information on healthy eating, breastfeeding support, and information and referrals to healthcare and community resources. TANF recipients automatically qualify for WIC services, thus facilitating the potential for co-enrollment in both programs. Teen pregnancies carry additional health risks for both mother and child, as teens typically do not receive prenatal care early enough in their gestation, leading to later complications. Pregnant teens also have a higher risk for pregnancy-related high blood pressure, and their babies are often premature or low birth weight.[14] WIC services may be able to address these issues for teen parents, particularly those that are low-income and do not have access to consistent healthcare and guidance.[15]

Child Care Access Means Parents in School (Federal Program): The Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS) is a federal grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education to support parents in school. These funds help low-income students, who are also parents, enroll and persist in postsecondary education through campus-based childcare services. Grants may be used for before- and/or after-school services. Currently, Goshen College is the sole recipient of this grant in Indiana receiving approximately $34,680 in funding.[16]

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement or supplement these practices through strategic use of ESEA and WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. This practice is an Activity outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, this practice showcases an innovative approach to assisting our pregnant/parenting youth in surmounting their unique circumstances

Education Creates Hope and Opportunity (Community Program): Education Creates Hope and Opportunity (ECHO) is a program for teen parents ran through Lutheran Social Services of Indiana in Fort Wayne and Allen County. ECHO provides one-on-one, home-, and school-based case management services to pregnant and parenting teens to help them complete their high school education by earning either a high school diploma or a High school equivalency. ECHO participants are more likely to develop the skills needed to break the cycle of pregnancy. Case managers assist clients in setting goals and help reduce barriers such as childcare, transportation, and other life circumstances that prevent them from being successful in school and life.

Route 21 (Community Program): Route 21 is a program run through Human Services Inc. in the United Way of Bartholomew County and prepares pregnant and parenting teens up to age 21 for lives as parents. Case managers address education, health care, and parenting issues. The program stresses the importance of high school education and provides options and resources to help them on their path to graduation. For teens who have already earned their high school diploma/equivalency this program supports teen parents in preparing to enter college while still being a knowledgeable and caring parent. Route 21 provides information for technical programs and certificates available in the community, provides participants with the means to fill out financial aid forms and create resumes, and connects individuals with programs and services that address healthcare needs before and after delivery for parents and child. By utilizing the Partners for a Healthy Baby curriculum along with teaching current best practices for parenting, Route 21 helps teach new parents how to address issues that may come along with being a parent and runs play groups, support groups and parent meetings run through Human Services, Inc.

Nurse-Family Partnership (State-Federal Program): The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), administered in Indiana by Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana, Michiana Goodwill, IU Health, and Healthier Moms and Babies, pairs mothers pregnant with their first child with a registered nurse. NFP nurses provide ongoing home visits aimed at supporting mothers and families provide the best start for their children during the earliest, most developmentally critical years. Parents receive ongoing nurse support that continues through the child’s second birthday. To be eligible an individual must be less than 28 weeks pregnant, have no previous live births, be at 200% of the poverty level or below, and live within one of the 39 Indiana counties currently served. The program specifically supports the Indiana State Department of Health’s Labor of Love campaign to reduce infant death and provides prenatal care coordination, while also teaching parents on breastfeeding, safe sleep, and other important nursing practices. The program is recognized for increasing healthcare access and improving health outcomes for both the mothers and infants. Most of the funding for this program comes from Indiana’s state budget and federal grants (e.g., MIECHV). To scale this program in more locales, we will to reverse refer all SNAP recipients and use SNAP 50/50 to match all state and philanthropic funding.

Young Families of Indiana Network (Community Program): The Young Families of Indiana Network (YFIN) is a division of Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC) that provides quality services for pregnant and parenting teens throughout Central Indiana. YFIN utilizes individual support, educational workshops, youth worker professional development, and advocacy to improve the lives of young parents. YFIN runs three programs for Pregnant and Parenting Teens:

  • The Future Promises Program aims to improve the life course of pregnant and parenting teens through school-based health education and comprehensive case management servicesThis program is active in four Indianapolis public high schools: North Central, Pike, Warren Central, and Arsenal Tech and has assisted more than 2,000 pregnant/parenting teens.
  • Indy Coalition for Pregnant and Parenting Teens is a coalition of a broad-based group of providers serving pregnant and parenting teens that has created a coordinated and strategic approach to serving the population in Marion County.
  • Education and Training: YFIN provides training and educational opportunities to increase the capacity of Indiana professionals in using evidence-based strategies in their work with pregnant and parenting teens, including an annual statewide conference.

[1] National Conference of State Legislature, 2018. Teen Pregnancy Prevention.

[2] US Health and Human Services, 2017. Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing.

[3] DoSomething.org, 2020.  11 Facts about Teen Pregnancy.

[4] DoSomething.org. 11 Facts about Teen Dads.

[5] Urban Institute, 2018. Strategies to Meet the Needs of Young Parent Families: Highlights from Interviews with 14 Programs.

[6] Indiana State Department of Health, Maternal and Child Health Division, February 2011. Pregnant and Parenting Adolescents Support Services (PPASS) Program Needs Assessment.

[7] National Conference of State Legislature, 2013. Postcard: Teen Pregnancy Affects Graduation Rates.

[8] You.gov. Adverse Effects.

[9] Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, May 2018. Teen pregnancy on the decline nationally, but less so in Indiana

[10] Urban Institute, 2018. Understanding Young-Parent Families A Profile of Parents Ages 18 to 24 Using the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

[11] Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 2018. College Return on Investment Report 2018.

[12] The CUNY Fatherhood Academy is a free program designed to promote responsible parenting and economic stability for unemployed and underemployed fathers ages 18-30, through education, employment, and personal development. The program provides a range of academic and personal supports, high school equivalency and college preparation classes, college and career readiness workshops, tutoring, individualized counseling, parenting seminars, MTA Metrocards, and job preparation.

[13] Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2018. What are some strategies for supporting pregnant and parenting teens in foster care?

[14] U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2020. Teen Pregnancy.

[15] American Pregnancy Association, 2020. WIC.

[16] US Department of Education, 2019. Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) Grantees 2019.

 

Special education is a broad umbrella term that includes many students who have various types of disabilities. These disabilities range from specific learning disabilities, (e.g., dyslexia, auditory processing disorder), to hearing, vision, and other physical impairments, emotional disabilities, and developmental disabilities (e.g., autism, intellectual disabilities). Though often thought of as a homogenous, monolithic representation of students, students with disabilities have considerable diversity in terms of aptitudes, abilities, impairments, and disabilities. With such a wide range of disabilities, students’ needs and supports vary greatly amongst individuals. Students with disabilities are able to achieve academically just like their peers if provided the proper accommodations and assistance to keep them on pace in the classroom. Providing the needed personalized supports and services, however, does stress an already thinly stretched educational system. In addition, low expectations and the lack of proper accommodations and support services as well as funding have negatively impacted many students with disabilities academic trajectory.[1]

Of Indiana’s 1.1 million students, approximately 173,000 (15%) receive special education services through an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan. These are components of two federal laws that protect the educational rights for students with disabilities by requiring an individualized plan outlining the appropriate accommodations and services to be provided to the student.

Of Hoosier students with disabilities, about 99% are capable of graduating high school with a high school diploma and fully prepared to tackle postsecondary education or employment, when given the proper accommodations throughout their academic career.[2]Only 1% of Indiana’s total student population has a significant cognitive disability and is placed on an alternate diploma (formerly Certificate of Completion) track; the majority of students with disabilities should earn a regular high school diploma.[3] Every student with a disability will face the same demands of adult life as their non-disabled peers but with more challenges. In 2018-19, 71.4% of Indiana’s students with disabilities graduated high school, which was lower than the General Education graduation rate of 90.9%. Inversely, the dropout rate for students with disabilities was higher at 7.1% than their peers at 4.5%. Almost all students with disabilities do not pass the standardized test in high school – 6.3% of students with disabilities passed the standardized test compared to 38% of their peers in General Education passing. Overall, students with disabilities face substantial gaps in academic proficiency and achievement when compared to their peers. This achievement gap puts all students in this subgroup at a long-term disadvantage for economic mobility and career advancement.

Four year cohort 2018-19 graduation and dropout rates by special education ISTEP 2018-19 results by special education[4]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaps in academic achievement begin early in students’ academic experiences. Using Indiana’s 3rd Grade Reading test results(see following table), a large difference is seen in performance between students with disabilities and their peers. These types of gaps tend to widen over the course of a student’s academic career. Lack of foundational knowledge in early grades continues to manifest in gaps in achievement as students progress. Providing students with disabilities the necessary supports, services and accommodations must begin with high expectations for this subgroup’s academic success. In Indiana’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan, which is the 2015 reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the long-term academic goals for grades 3 thru 8 and 10, as well as graduation rates, for special education are set below their peers.[5] Though these goals were based on the historical performance of this subgroup, we must recognize that the difference in expectations for our students with disabilities will perpetuate inequities in students’ career advancement, postsecondary attainment, and median income. To set all of our students up for success, we need to ensure the level of rigor and achievement as well as access to the curriculum is comparable across all of our subgroups.

 

IREAD-3 2018-19 results by special education

Postsecondary transitions can be difficult for youth with disabilities, who may encounter additional challenges than their typical peers in negotiating the transition to young adulthood. Nationally, almost 8 in 10 youth with disabilities have been engaged in postsecondary education, training, or paid employment. Three-fourths of postsecondary students with disabilities go to school full-time, and about 8 in 10 meet satisfactory academic progress. Two-thirds of postsecondary students with disabilities do not receive any accommodations from their higher education programs, primarily because their schools are unaware of their disabilities. About 7 in 10 youth with disabilities have worked for pay at some time since leaving high school. Only 4% of working youth with disabilities receive accommodations for their disabilities, largely because most youth have employers who are unaware of their disabilities.  Among those whose employers are aware of their disabilities, 25% are receiving workplace accommodations.[6]

In Indiana, of our approximately 3.1 million labor force participants, 178,000 individuals are employed, which makes up about 5% of the workforce. The unemployment rate for individuals with a disability is about 10.0%, a difference of over six percentage points with the general population. Providing optimum supports and opportunities for our youth with disabilities while they are in secondary and postsecondary education programs serve as a preventative strategy for individuals potentially facing unemployment or needing government benefits. Through the necessary accommodations for these youth, we can help them to achieve at the same, or higher, rates than their peers, setting them up for future success

Co-Enrolled Programs: Youth with disabilities will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core Program Activities, Activities Outside of the Plan, and Individual Services.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Federal Program): The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) is a federal law that requires a free, appropriate public education provided in the least restrictive environment for students with disabilities. It was enacted to ensure that all children with disabilities are provided with equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency. IDEA describes how states and schools must provide early intervention and special education-related services to eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. This law aims to curb educational problems associated with low expectations and insufficient funding for supportive services to help students meet the same level of expectation as their peers. It also focuses on alternative research, teaching methods, and tools. IDEA has six major principles that focus on students’ rights and the responsibilities of public schools to children with disabilities:

  1. Free Appropriate Public Education: Every child with a disability is entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). IDEA emphasizes that special education and related services should be designed to meet a child’s unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. To aide with this, schools are required to prepare an IEP which focuses on raised student expectations, appropriate progress, required accommodations and supports, and transition into postsecondary education and independent living.
  2. Appropriate Evaluation: Schools are required to conduct appropriate evaluation of students suspected of having a disability. Evaluations must be geared toward planning for the child’s education and future instruction and must determine and make recommendations regarding a child’s eligibility for special education services in a timely manner.
  3. Individualized Education Program: The IEP draws upon existing evaluation information in order to meet a student’s unique educational needs. IEPs must include information regarding a student’s present levels of educational performance, annual goals, and benchmarking objectives, services and supplementary aids to be received, and a detailed explanation of instances where a student is not participating in the general classroom and why. IEPs must also include specific academic, developmental, and functional needs of the child and should include students’ progress, as well as their “transition” to adult life.
  4. Least Restrictive Environment: IDEA places a strong emphasis on students being placed in a general education setting. This may include classroom modifications, supplemental aids and services, alternative instructional methods, and other supports and accommodations.
  5. Parent Participation: State educational agencies and local school boards must ensure that the parents of a child with a disability are members of any group that makes decisions regarding the placement of that child. Both students and parents must be invited to IEP meetings, and the IDEA explicitly establishes a role for the parent as equal participant and decision maker.
  6. Procedural Safeguards: IDEA establishes procedural safeguards to help parents and students enforce their rights under federal law.[7]

Schools receive additional funding to support students with disabilities through IDEA. For FY 2020, Indiana has received approximately $261 million, which is formulaically distributed to schools to fund the supports, resources, and accommodations to help students succeed. This funding can directly support the instructional needs for youth with disabilities, including additional personnel, physical modifications, assistive technologies, or other accommodations. To help students meet the same academic rigor of their peers, IDEA funds need to be intentionally supporting the instructional needs of these students, which will help close the persistent gap in academic achievement. Indiana has been appropriated $1.2 million and $2.3 million in grants for preschool and infants and families, respectively. [8]

Part of an IEP is transition planning. This is federally required to be included in the student’s IEP beginning at age 16. Due to Article 7, in Indiana the planning begins earlier by age 14 or 9th grade, whichever occurs earlier. As a student moves from middle to high school, students, families, and IEP teams start to determine what necessary steps the student will need to take during high school towards his/her postsecondary goal. The first step is assessing a youth’s interests, aptitudes and abilities, and then planning specific activities and a course of study that is appropriate for the youth. To further create alignment between IDEA and Vocational Rehabilitation Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS), beginning transition planning at age 14 will allow for greater opportunities for career exploration, postsecondary counseling, and determining transition supports that can be provided through both funding streams.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act – Title I, Part A (Federal Program): Title I, Part A: Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) allows for states to offer an alternate diploma for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Up to 1% of each graduating cohort may receive an alternative diploma, which will replace Indiana’s current Certificate of Completion for this subpopulation. These are students who have significant intellectual disabilities and may not be able to succeed in general education classes or on a traditional diploma track, therefore an alternate diploma provides an option aligned to alternate achievement standards. Earning a diploma can give students more opportunities for employment after graduation and would also mean that these students’ academic achievements would be recognized as comparable to their peers.[9] The alternate diploma may also increase the overall high school graduation rate of students with disabilities. Though this option is available for a specific subset of students with disabilities, it is important for parents, counselors, teachers, and students with significant cognitive disabilities to evaluate all diploma options and what each means for their future before defaulting to the alternative diploma. Supports through IDEA are provided to assist students with additional barriers in attaining a Core 40 diploma or higher, which should be the goal for most students, including those with a disability.

How we teach and prepare our students with disabilities is critical to ensuring their postsecondary success. Title II: Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, or Other School Leaders of ESSA provides funding for both state and local professional development activities for teachers and administrators. We encourage both our state agency and local school districts to focus a portion of this funding on professional development and reshape our expectations and instructional practices for our students with disabilities throughout their K-12 experience. By doing this, we can set students within this target population up for postsecondary success.

All at-risk students, including those with disabilities, would benefit from rethinking the approach to building systems that support teaching and leading. Increasing collaboration and expanding communication between divisions within state agencies will strengthen programs and provide an opportunity to creatively develop services that support students with disabilities. An intentional multi-agency approach to thought leadership ensures all aspects students with disabilities are considered and addressed. 

As previously demonstrated, there is a significant gap between students with and without disabilities. We also know that some subgroups of students are disproportionately identified as having a disability. For both of these reasons, it is critical that all teachers and leaders have high expectations and the skills and knowledge to effectively teach all students. Efforts to support and professionally develop teachers and leaders need to be equitable across the state and within each area of certification. For example, if we want more students with disabilities to be successful in CTE courses, both special education and CTE teachers need to be properly equipped to provide a rigorous curriculum with the necessary supports and accommodations.

Title IV – Vocational Rehabilitation (Core Program): Vocational Rehabilitation can provide a key resource for students with disabilities through Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) and Transition Services. Pre-ETS can be used for career exploration, work-based learning, job readiness training, postsecondary enrollment counseling, work-based learning experiences and self-advocacy for students ages 14-22 with a disability.[10] Pre-ETS can assist students with disabilities in identifying postsecondary interests and goals to be further explored through additional VR services, including transition services. Fifteen percent of the VR federal funding allotment must be directed toward Pre-ETS, which is estimated to be $9.5 million for FY 2020. This funding supports students with disabilities in obtaining the five required Pre-ETS components:

  1. Job exploration counseling;
  2. Work-based learning experiences, which may include in-school or after school opportunities, experiences outside of the traditional school setting, and/or internships;[11]
  3. Counseling on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or postsecondary educational programs;
  4. Workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living; and/or
  5. Instruction in self-advocacy.
     
    Pre-ETS activities are focused on early career exploration and could be braided with both WIOA Youth and Perkins to support those activities for student with disabilities. Over the next two years, Pre-ETS will serve as a gap filler for activities, such as self-advocacy training and job readiness skill building. Students with disabilities are often afforded embedded supports and services throughout their K-12 experience as the IDEA funds are an entitlement monies. Transitioning from this type of supportive environment to adulthood, where an individual must advocate and navigate for supports, can be difficult. It can also cause students to drop out of postsecondary education, become unemployed, or disengaged from their communities. We can deploy Pre-ETS as an early intervention for these students to help them access the supports and resources necessary for success. Transition services should emphasize stair stepping these youth into navigating the complex system of adulthood. From a student’s end of high school through the first few years of postsecondary life, Pre-ETS can help students traverse the shift from high school to adulthood.
     
    Through Pre-ETS, we will increase students with disabilities enrollment in and completion of dual credit courses, AP exams, and industry-recognized certifications. Students experience both career exploration and postsecondary transition through courses that provide academic insight into various fields and allow students to earn stackable, transferrable credits towards postsecondary education. Pre-ETS can support students’ enrollment in these courses and earning these credentials by assisting students with accommodations or filing financial aid so our Hoosier students with disabilities earn these credentials during their high school careers. To pay for these certifications, we can braid different funding streams for this subgroup. For this individual who are receiving VR services, VR funds could help pay for the costs of these assessments or courses. Within Perkins, Indiana has allocated funding to offset the expenses of certification costs, with CTE districts receiving additional dollars for students with disabilities. WIOA Title I or ESEA Title I could also be directed toward funding these courses for this particular population, in addition to our other At-Risk Youth populations. Pursuing in any of these three college- and career-readiness activities directly aligns with Pre-ETS’ purpose to develop and improve strategies for students with disabilities to participate in postsecondary education experiences, thus we must strategically use Pre-ETS as a complement to our other funding sources to help students with disabilities earn these credentials.
     
    Mentorships between businesspeople with disabilities and students with disabilities can serve a dual purpose for both exploration and transitional support. Schools and Pre-ETS providers can use this funding source to help facilitate genuine, sustained mentorships for students with disabilities with successful adults with disabilities. These mentorships would help students learn about different careers, discuss requisite postsecondary education, knowledge, and skills, make industry connections and foster a network, and seek advice and counsel when the need arises. Peer mentors can also assist with instruction in self-advocacy, in addition to offering perspectives on postsecondary opportunities and job explorations. Through these mentorships, students with disabilities could learn self-advocacy skills and insight from the lived experiences of adults, acumen that would benefit them as they traverse the transition to adulthood. The most powerful aspect of a mentorship is for the jobseeker to see someone with similar barriers succeeding in a career interest, therefore knowing success is an attainable goal.
     
    VR will identify strategies to improve the transition of students with disabilities from school to postsecondary education or employment with remaining Pre-ETS funds:
  • Increase independent living and inclusion in communities and competitive integrated workplaces;
  • Develop and improve strategies for individuals with intellectual and significant disabilities to live independently, participate in postsecondary education experiences, and obtain and retain competitive integrated employment;
  • Provide training to vocational rehabilitation counselors, school transition staff, providers, and others supporting students with disabilities;
  • Disseminate information on innovative, effective, and efficient approaches to implement pre-employment transition services and improve the transition to postsecondary activities of those who are traditionally unserved; and
  • Coordinate activities with transition services provided by local educational agencies under IDEA.
     
    Indiana VR will also explore strategies for improving transition coordinating activities, in collaboration with transition services provided by school districts under IDEA. IDEA also includes transition services as a required component of a student’s IEP. Comparing the definition of transition services under both laws illuminates an opportunity for braided funding to play key role in supporting these students:
     
IDEA, Part B – Transition ServicesVR – Transition Services
  • A coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability designed within a results-oriented process that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the student with a disability to facilitate the student’s movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation.
  • The coordinated set of activities is based on each student’s needs, taking into account the student’s strengths, preferences and interests, and includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, the acquisition of daily living skills and provision of a functional vocational evaluation.[12]
  • Each student’s IEP must include: (i) appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills; and (ii) the transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the student in reaching those goals.[13]
  • A coordinated set of activities for a student or youth with a disability designed within an outcome-oriented process that promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational training, competitive integrated employment, supported employment, continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation.
  • Services are based upon the individual student’s or youth’s needs, taking into account the student’s or youth’s preferences and interests.
  • These services promote or facilitate the achievement of the employment outcomes identified in the student’s or youth’s individualized plan for employment (IPE).
  • Services must include outreach to and engagement of the parents or other representative of such for a student with a disability.[14]
  • VR agencies provide those services to students with disabilities who have applied and been determined eligible for the VR program.

Because of the similarities in the services provided by each program, there may be instances in which some special education and related services under the IDEA may also be provided through VR transition services. The funding and activities under the two programs can either be braided together or work in tandem with one another to provide more robust services to youth with disabilities to overcome achievement gaps in education and employment. Transition services under the Rehabilitation Act may be categorized as both VR services under the VR program and as special education or related services under IDEA. Under IDEA, transition services could include mental health services, rehabilitation counseling; orientation and mobility services, and medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes. Some of the special education or related services, such as rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, and work experiences, overlap with VR transition services that are available to students with disabilities – who have applied and been determined eligible for the VR program. There is some overlap with Pre-ETS. Both federal acts can support opportunities for students with disabilities to enroll in postsecondary education programs while still in high school, as well as align to financial aid available to students with disabilities enrolled in comprehensive transition and postsecondary education programs.[15]

To facilitate the coordination of these two programs, VR, the Department of Education, and schools must foster stronger, more synchronized partnerships to support these students. To help prevent students with disabilities from disappearing into the margins of our workforce and society, we need to connect them with the support needed during high school and their transition to postsecondary life to ensure a strong start to adulthood. These programs serve as early interventions to ensure students successfully move into and complete postsecondary education programs and/or secure quality employment. Through local partnerships, school districts and VR offices can determine which funding stream can provide a service.

VR Pre-ETS and transition services could serve as a supplement for IDEA transition services. Additionally, VR could provide funding directly to schools so they can offer Pre-ETS as a complement to IDEA accommodations in-house. Individual need and circumstance will be the determinant in how to braid these two funds in the most efficient manner. It may not look the same for each youth, but between both funds, students should receive a comprehensive package of supports and services to help them successfully move from high school into postsecondary education or employment. Workforce Development Boards’ plans can detail how local partnerships will ensure a streamlined, efficient use of both funding streams to enhance or expand services for all youth with disabilities. Pre-ETS can supplement IDEA transitional activities, as well as bridge them with workforce development services. These funds can support VR staff to work with the local Workforce Development Boards, institutions of higher education, WorkOnes, providers, and employers to develop training and employment opportunities for students with disabilities, including internships, summer employment, and youth apprenticeships.

Work-based learning experiences can offer two layers of benefits for youth with disabilities: 1) it helps students gain work-related skills and experiences, and 2) it can dispel some beliefs/myths about individuals with disabilities that exist in business. Given the high unemployment rate of Hoosiers with disabilities, this is another untapped talent pipeline that may be overlooked by some employers due to misconceptions or misnomers regarding the abilities and contributions of this target population. Getting students into businesses through a temporary learning experience will provide exposure for both the student and the business. Pre-ETS can support WBL opportunities through CTE and other means by helping offset the stipends and costs of WBL programs. Similar to EARN Indiana, Pre-ETS could subsidize work-based learning opportunities and wages to increase access for students with disabilities. As well, Pre-ETS providers or counselors can ensure that the work-based learning experience is substantive and content-focused for the student.

Per recent policy interpretation from the US Department of Education, Pre-ETS can be used to cover the costs of auxiliary aids and services provided directly to students with disabilities. Using Pre-ETS to fund these accommodations is permitted if it will allow students to access or participate in Pre-ETS activities.[16] Pre-ETS can cover the following costs if promote students’ access: Assessments Services, Counseling and Guidance, Referral Services, Maintenance, Transportation, Personal Assistance Services, Rehabilitation Teaching & Orientation, Mobility Services, Rehabilitation Technologies, and Family Services.[17] With this clarified guidance, Indiana will start using Pre-ETS to fund accommodations for students specifically in work-based learning experiences.[18] As a means to increase students’ access to more work-based learning opportunities, schools and providers can employ Pre-ETS funding to provide auxiliary aids and services and rehabilitation technologies that will assist students participate in this critical Pre-ETS component. Additionally, for those students with disabilities requiring transportation assistance in their IEP, Pre-ETS will also cover any transportation costs related to a work-based learning experience. Schools can braid IDEA and Pre-ETS funds for accommodations together for those activities that occur within a classroom – such as job exploration or workplace readiness development within a CTE class.

Increased emphasis will be placed on opportunities for students with disabilities to receive postsecondary planning and support towards credentialing, work-readiness skills, and finding competitive integrated employment aligned to their career aspirations. Pre-ETS will refocus on increasing the quality of the transitional process to postsecondary options for students, including those with the most significant disabilities, to practice and improve their workplace skills in competitive integrated work settings before they leave high school. VR can share post-education employment and training outcomes with schools, which may in turn positively affect district level reporting outcomes for all Transition Indicators. We intend to increase opportunities for students with disabilities to explore postsecondary education and training options, which will lead to more meaningful postsecondary employment and training goals on student IEPs. Through cross-training, VR offices and providers will learn about the bevy of federal and state financial aid available to students. Additionally, information on the FAFSA, 21st Century Scholars program, Frank O’Bannon Scholarship, Workforce Ready Grants, and other financial aid opportunities will be made available at VR Offices and at transition fairs. Through Pre-ETS’ third component, counselors and Pre-ETS staff should escalate their efforts on assisting students with accessing and completing financial aid applications.

Through local Workforce Development Boards the Offices of Vocational Rehabilitation, including VR Youth Counselors and Pre-ETS providers, can work with the school districts to supplement IDEA transitional services by developing, expanding, or enhancing in-school, after school, or summer work experience opportunities in diverse career pathways, leading to more meaningful postsecondary enrollment and employment. School districts can also utilize workforce partners to identify early work experience and job opportunities outside the traditional school setting in the local labor market that may complement a student’s interests and goals. This will provide increased opportunities for students with disabilities to explore postsecondary opportunities, leading to more postsecondary educational attainment, skills gains, and meaningful postsecondary employment. VR can potentially provide students competitive wages or training stipends for work performed during an employment experience.

Over the course of the 2019-2020 school year, two special education cooperatives and two school districts have been participating in a pilot with their local Pre-ETS providers in order to develop effective communication and collaboration between Pre-ETS providers and districts. This pilot will enable Pre-ETS providers and districts to have a starting point when working to provide comprehensive transition activities and services to students with disabilities in the future. Both the DOE and VR can take the promising practices and lessons learned from this pilot to improve communication between Pre-ETS and school districts to ensure students with disabilities have access to the full spectrum of transition services.

Title I – Youth (Core Program): WIOA Youth funds can be utilized as an additional funding gap filler to provide services to youth with disabilities. Specifically, this funding stream can be utilized to provide tutoring, academic education offered concurrently with workforce preparation and training, leadership development, comprehensive guidance and counseling, financial literacy education, and entrepreneurial skills training. A program similar to Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) could be provided as Pre-ETS for students with disabilities, ensuring they have access to the same high quality programs as their peers. Furthermore, this funding can be utilized to fill or provide any gap services that IDEA and Pre-ETS are unable to provide that would be necessary to combat these students’ barriers to achievement. Youth with disabilities are eligible for the WIOA Youth program whether in- or out-of-school. We recommend these services particularly for students who are deemed ineligible for VR services or are deferred due to order of selection, but still require additional assistance, counseling, and job training to better support transition for this population.

WIOA Youth can help connect students with disabilities to Pre-ETS as needed through age 22. As some students may dip in and out of Pre-ETS as needed, transition supports should be a constant resource available for these individuals. For youth needing transition assistance, this program should be interwoven into WIOA Out-of-School Youth options. As local Boards determine ways to connect with unconnected youth, they should also explore strategies to expand Pre-ETS into adult charter high schools to engage with out-of-school youth with disabilities.

Potential Enrollment: Additional programs and services a Hoosier may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Partner Program Activitiesfor youth in this target population.

Carl D. Perkins (Partner Program): As we will describe further in our Perkins Program Requirements section, we want to ensure there is equitable access and representation of students with disabilities in all career clusters. Ensuring secondary and postsecondary students access to those CTE programs in high-wage occupations, such as those in our advanced industries, is critical to fill the unemployment gap. We need to actively recruit and retain students into programs that can give them the technical skills needed for success in well-paid occupations. Using Perkins Leadership funds, Indiana will create a Special Populations Recruitment Initiative. This grant opportunity will support professional development to increase the effectiveness of teachers, faculty, specialized support personnel, and paraprofessionals in relation to the recruitment of special populations into CTE programs. This funding will also go towards similar professional development for CTE instructors and administrators as above – with differentiated instructional practices – to support our special populations in CTE at both the secondary and postsecondary levels. Indiana intends to explore opportunities to use Perkins to support educational institutions in serving individuals with disabilities. The first step will be to allocate non-competitive grants to the School for the Deaf and the School for the Blind to build a bridge to CTE programs at nearby CTE Centers, employers, and schools for their students.

Misconceptions regarding physical or developmental abilities of these students may preclude them from participating in certain career clusters. IDEA funding should ensure that all necessary accommodations for a student’s success are in place to facilitate enrollment in and completion of CTE courses. This can pair with Perkins funds to ensure those supports are in place for students with disabilities. CTE districts and schools must partner together to ensure these funding streams work in conjunction with one another to support these students. Access alone, though, is not sufficient to close the achievement and wage gaps for this target population. We need students to earn credentials, complete programs of study, and enroll in postsecondary education programs.

As we work to redesign and implement new Programs of Study over the next two years, there will be a particular focus on postsecondary transference and credentialing for special populations, such as youth with disabilities. Our aim is to make our Programs of Study stackable with dual credit courses and industry-recognized certifications that directly align with postsecondary programs. Perkins funding is a major pillar of implementing these redesigned Programs of Study, including the recruitment and retention of students with disabilities. Perkins can also fund career awareness and guidance in both the secondary and postsecondary space. This type of guidance can either complement or supplement Pre-ETS for youth with disabilities – Perkins can fund career guidance and Pre-ETS can assist with transitional supports for independent living and system navigation. Blending Perkins programs and funding with Pre-ETS could provide students with more funding to explore careers and postsecondary education options at both the secondary and postsecondary level. VR, DOE, and the Office of Career and Technical Education are currently developing a pilot program to test how the blending of these programs can benefit students academically. The goal is to better serve more individuals with disabilities by combining Vocational Rehabilitation or Pre-ETS services with career and technical education. 

Apprenticeships (Federal and State Programs): Each year, Indiana has roughly 25,000 high school graduates whohave no plan beyond graduation other than to “get a job.” These young adults, particularly those with disabilities, often end up acquiring low-wage, low-skill jobs. Youth with disabilities are half as likely as their peers to participate in postsecondary education.[19] Effective transition services are key for youth with disabilities to make informed choices about their futures and find ways to fulfill their career aspirations and potential. One option that can create opportunities for both employment and postsecondary education for this target population is both registered and state apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are often overlooked as a viable option for youth with disabilities during transition planning. This may be due to student interest or, again, potential misconceptions regarding student capability by both the IEP team and employers. Employment counselors, along with IEP teams, can help determine what programs are available and their entry requirements to ensure alignment with student interest. Employers and trade unions, similarly, can expand their recruitment practices to target non-typical hires, such as youth with disabilities. Both VR and WorkOne business service teams can help address some misnomers regarding hiring youth with disabilities, such as potential, ability, and expense of accommodations. Through the transition plan, IEP teams and counselors can determine what potential assistive technology a student may require for success.                                                                                                                     

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement or supplement these practices through strategic use of ESEA and WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. This practice is an Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, this practice showcases an innovative approach to assisting our youth with disabilities in surmounting their unique circumstances.

IN*Source (Community Program): IN*Source provides parents, families, individuals, and service providers’ information and training necessary to help assure effective educational programs and appropriate services for individuals with disabilities. The goal of this community partner is parents helping parents. It offers the following programs to youth and families of youth with disabilities:

  • Collaborative Parent Involvement Project: Initiated by the Indiana Department of Education Office of Special Education along with IN*Source, the Collaborative Parent Involvement Project (CPIP) focuses on helping parents, educators, and local communities work together to address challenges facing youth with disabilities, including transition, assistive technology, and surrogate parent programs. The project also supports facilitating communication among families and groups to foster the development of regional and statewide networks.
  • Indiana Parent Training Program: The Indiana Parent Training Program (IPTP) is a parent-to-parent training and information project. By circulating information and materials and conducting training workshops throughout Indiana, IPTP instructs parents about their rights and responsibilities in early intervention and special education processes under state and federal laws. IPTP provides individual assistance for parents and professionals, workshops for parents, and parent support volunteers who serve as a sources of support and information amongst parents in their local community. Through the WIOA Combined Plan, information regarding transition supports for the wide array of postsecondary options for this target population can also be provided to parents, so they can assist their child with determining their next step.
  • Parents Helping Parents: Parents Helping Parents is a program that believes in the power of shared experiences and utilizes this to allow parents to help other parents navigate through the information necessary to provide for children with disabilities. The program trains parents to work directly with other parents to provide special education support and education to parents in need. Parents Helping Parents provides assistance statewide for Hoosier families.

Indiana University – Bloomington: Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (Community Program): This programwork closely with transition educators and teams throughout the state, providing technical assistance, troubleshooting challenges, and assisting schools as they collaborate with state agencies and organizations to build seamless transitions for their students. The Center assists schools and educators by:

  • Creating and providing professional development activities regarding transition services for students with disabilities;
  • Developing and coordinating the statewide Cadre of Transition Leaders to more effectively support students with disabilities and their families by focusing on student-focused planning, student development, family involvement, interagency collaboration, and program structures; and
  • Supporting the Indiana Department of Education’s Office of Special Education as it works to improve graduation rates, drop-out rates, compliant Transition IEPs, family involvement, and postsecondary outcomes.

A project of the Center on Community Living and Careers, the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center is sponsored by the Indiana Department of Education. The Center on Community Living and Careers is one of six centers at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana University.

Project Success (Community Program): Project Success is a resource center that supports higher academic achievement for students with disabilities. It focuses on building local capacity to ensure that students with significant cognitive disabilities are able to achieve increasingly higher academic outcomes and will leave high school ready for postsecondary options. Project Success is part of the Indiana Resource Network. It strives to support teams of teachers and administrators in Indiana as they work to implement academic standards into instruction for students with disabilities. They provide current, research-based resources related to content standards, instructional design, and student outcomes and designed specifically to cater to the needs of students with disabilities

Project Search (Community Program):  Project Search is a worksite-based school-to-work program providing employment and education opportunities for VR eligible students with disabilities who are transitioning from high school and young adults. It allows employers to increase workforce diversity and reduces training and recruitment cost. Project Search provides quality internships that give participants real-world skills that will help prepare them for competitive employment. This program is funded by Vocational Rehabilitation in partnership with local schools, community rehabilitation programs, and local businesses to provide services. Student interns work in clerical, materials management, customer service, healthcare services, data entry, and other areas. Two additional sites provide a similar version of this curriculum specifically for young adults who are no longer apart of the school system. Project Search is focused on full immersion into the workplace and helps students develop resumes and portfolios to aid with job search. Often, students are offered employment by the business host at the end of their internship experience, but, if that is not the case, students receive job placement services through Vocational Rehabilitation to ensure access to the workforce.

[1] Butrymowicz and Mader, 2017. Almost all students with disabilities are capable of graduating on time. Here’s why they’re not.

[2] University of Wisconsin-Superior, 2019. Improving Graduation Rates for Special Education Students.

[3] While there is no cap on who may receive a State-defined alternate diploma, because of the connection to the alternate assessment aligned with alternate academic achievement standards under section 1111(b)(2)(D) of the ESEA, the Department expects that, in general, no more than one percent of students graduating in a State in a given year would receive a State-defined alternate diploma (US Department of Education, Every Student Succeeds Act High School Graduation Rate Non-Regulatory Guidance).

[4] Indiana Department of Education. DOE Compass.

[5] Indiana Department of Education, 2019. Amendment to Indiana’s Consolidated State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

[6] US Department of Education, 2005. After High School: A First Look At The Postschool Experiences of Youth with Disabilities.

[7]  M. Saleh, 2020.  Your Child’s Rights: 6 Principles of IDEA.

[8] US Department of Education. Funds for State Formula-Allocated and Selected Student Aid Programs: Indiana.

[9] Chalkbeat, February 2018. Indiana moves to create an ‘alternate’ diploma for students with severe disabilities.

[10] Rehabilitation Services Administration. Regulations Implementing the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, As Amended By the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

[11] These opportunities should be provided in an integrated setting in the community to the maximum extent possible.

[12] 20 U.S.C. § 1401(34).

[13] 34 C.F.R. § 300.43(b).

[14] 34 C.F.R. § 361.5(c)(55).

[15] US Department of Education, 2017. Increasing Postsecondary Opportunities and Success for Students and Youth with Disabilities.

[16] Auxiliary aids are an additional service that can be provided for students potentially eligible for the VR program and, therefore, not receiving VR services.

[17] These services are only available for students participating in Pre-ETS who are also VR eligible individuals receiving services under Individualized Plan for Employment.

[18] US Department of Education, 2020. 34 CFR Part 361: State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program.

[19] Office of Disability Employment Policy. Youth with Disabilities Entering the Workplace through Apprenticeship Preparing Youth and Young Adults for Apprenticeship Programs.

 

Indiana has approximately over 460,000 individuals without a high school diploma between the ages of 18 and 64.[1] Of Indiana’s 92 counties, 21 have more than 5,000 people without a high school diploma or high school equivalency (HSE). Marion County leads the state with around 85,500 people between the ages of 18 and 64 without a diploma, followed by Lake (35,300), Allen (24,500) and Elkhart (24,200) counties. Though the total number of individuals without a high school diploma or HSE are found in the most densely populated areas, rural counties have a higher overall percentage of individuals lacking this educational attainment.

Percent of adults ages 18 to 64 without a high school diploma, 2016

[2]

During the 2018-2019 program year, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development enrolled 30,183 Hoosiers into Adult Education services. Of those enrollees, 24,740 attended at least 12 hours. Approximately 13,913 Hoosiers entered Adult Education without a high school diploma or higher credential. 5,371 Hoosiers earned their high school equivalency and 2,790 (approximately 79%) students earned an industry-recognized certification. A total of 4,854 individuals enrolled in training. Of the remaining 4,176 enrollments, 3,537 (approximately 85%) completed the training, though there may be some overlap with those who earned their HSEs.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development estimates about 76% of the adult learners entering adult basic education programs are assessed below the 9th grade level in math and language arts:

Assessed education grade level for Adult Education students

[3]

These data indicate that many of those who enroll in Adult Education may have a high school diploma but be basic skills deficient. Of the 19,333 students in Adult Education programs, 7,776 (40%) entered at educational attainment levels at grade 4.9 or below; 7,351 (38%) entered at educational attainment levels between 5-8.9 grades. For many of these individuals, it may take longer than one program year to attain their diploma, given how much academic remediation they require to close the gap between what a student knows and what s/he is expected to know. This type of educational support often targets reading or math skills. Once someone is at the 9th grade level, it takes an average of 6 to 8 weeks to earn an HSE. These Hoosier may struggle to reengage with or advance in the workforce due to needing academic and skill remediation, thus seeking out Adult Education programs.

Individuals lacking a high school diploma constitute another large population of AE students. There are several pressures on K-12 students that can be dropout factors for youth. Adverse situations within the school environment may cause a student to dropout. These include attendance, discipline policies, and consequences of poor behavior. Students can feel pulled out when personal issues divert them from completing school. These occur when factors, such as poverty, out-of-school employment, family needs, or even family pull students away from school. A third factor, falling out of school, occurs when a student does not show significant academic progress in schoolwork and becomes apathetic or even pessimistic with schoolwork and graduation. Falling out is the process whereby the student gradually increases behaviors of academic disengagement without being forced out by the school or lured out by things they need or want. As a result, these students eventually disappear from the system.[4]

Those who are currently or formerly involved in the Corrections system may overlap with this target population. AE offers programs for these individuals in both state facilities and local jails; the Ex-Offender section addresses this subgroup of AE more directly. English Learners needing assistance with language acquisition also comprise the AE student population. This can include native-born English Learners who may struggle academically or professionally with English skills; immigrants who are foreign-born, some of which may have foreign credentials that are not accepted here; and refugees moved to Indiana through resettlement efforts.

Despite its benefits, participation in adult educational services can be sporadic. Adults often fail to complete their studies due to difficulties with work and family schedules to access educational programs. Another commonly cited barrier is students losing motivation after failing to see concrete economic gains. AE providers have sought to prevent these problems in numerous ways. Sometimes the fix can be as straightforward as offering programs on nights or weekends. Other institutions have developed more complex curricular innovations. Some of the more popular alternatives to traditional AE include bridge programs, which combine basic skills training with vocational preparation, and career pathways, which break long programs into smaller, more readily achievable pieces that provide meaningful occupational credentials along the way.

Co-Enrolled Programs: Hoosiers without a high school diploma and/or deficient in basic skills will be co-enrolled into the following primary programs and services of benefit to this target population. An individual’s unique circumstances or preference may not necessitate co-enrollment in each program. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities andIndividual Servicesfor those adults seeking a high school diploma or who are deficient in basic skills.

Title II – Adult Education (Core Program): Based on an individual’s skills assessment, as well as a transcript evaluation determining if he or she has earned a high school diploma or HSE, an individual would then be automatically referred to Adult Education for academic services in math, reading, and written skills. Indiana uses the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) to measure skill gains in language and mathematics. In addition to academics, AE also provides digital literacy and English language acquisition services. Once enrolled in AE, students are offered the opportunity to pursue occupational trainings for an in-demand, high wage job. In many instances, these trainings come in the form of Integrated Education and Training (IET). Through this triangulated approach of teaching basic academic skills leading to a high school equivalency, occupational skills training, and employability skills, IETs provide the three necessary components for future success in a single classroom. The IET trainings are offered by eligible training providers who have been approved by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. These training providers must not only meet a level of agreed upon standards, but also provide trainings within industry sectors deemed to be high-wage and high-demand. Funding for the academic and educational services should be heavily provided by AE in an IET model, while WIOA Adult, WIOA Youth (depending on the Hoosier’s age), or Perkins can be utilized for funding occupational training as a gap filler.

As Indiana builds career pathways with multiple entry points and with stackable credentials, we will consider how an individual can complete higher levels of education and training to advance over time in their chosen industry. Because AE is a main source of remedial academic support for Hoosiers, we need to connect IET models with our career pathways development. The ideal IET classroom will balance the three required components in an equal fashion, incorporating cross-curriculum content for optimal learning, review, and evaluation. IETs should be the core educational strategy for delivering career pathways to AE students. This instructional approach crosses all levels of service delivery in WIOA Title II and can include a wide variety of WIOA Title I career and training services and Perkins technical training, allowing for co-enrollment and braiding of funds. Title I can specifically fund the occupational training elements on an IET program if it is on the Eligible Training Provider list (ETPL), blending with WIOA Title II for academic remediation and financial and digital literacy development.

In addition to IET models that meld academic education and technical training together, we also intend to more broadly scale our Workforce Education Initiative. Using AE funds, Hoosiers without a diploma or deficient in basic skills can enroll in basic skill and/or English Learner classes at employer sites. This allows the Hoosier to be employed and earning an income and able to improve his/her academic skills. It combines education, provided through AE, and employment at a site convenient for the individual. Often, the individual can earn a short-term certificate (e.g., NIMS Level I, Comp TIA A+, or Entry Level AWS) that can be stacked toward more advanced certification and professions. We currently have about 75 employers participating, including some larger employers, like Tyson Foods.

As Indiana’s economy and talent pipelines continually evolve, we need our employers to start implementing non-traditional hiring practices. These untapped populations present great upskilling and reskilling potential to help fill Indiana’s job openings. Additionally, as we scale models similar to the My Cook Pathway through our WorkINdiana(State Program), we need our employers to understand that these are not merely philanthropic or corporate social responsibility activities. This program assists employers in building pathways to help their current and potential employees earn an HSE and improve their academic skills in an AE classroom while earning a career certification. Governor Holcomb is working with the Indiana General Assembly to potentially redefine this funding to assist employers with providing wraparound supports – such as career coaches, mentors, tutors, and other expenses – that employees may need to successfully complete this program. These are ways to develop sustainable talent with industry-relevant, up-to-date skills and knowledge embedded.

In all of these programs, the importance of career counseling to help our Hoosiers determine and navigate the best path for career advancement is paramount for both the individual’s and program’s success. To help scale the availability of career navigation to this target population, Indiana has recently mandated that all AE providers have specific staff positions dedicated to academic and career coaching as a part of their grant. The Skillful Governor’s Coaching Corps can enhance the effectiveness of the academic and career coaches embedded in the AE programs, as well as use supplemental funds from Wagner-Peyser or Indiana’s Local Career Coaching Grants as needed. Our AE programs have made tremendous strides towards integrating academic learning into technical learning and real-world application. To complement this work, we need to include more opportunities for career coaching, as well.

By incorporating career counseling into our AE programs, we are seeking to connect more of our AE students to postsecondary credentials and/or degrees. The challenge is making sure that AE classes, which do not lead to college credits when siloed, relate to a college degree pathway in some way, and that this relationship is communicated to students and valued by AE providers. Often Hoosier AE graduates find jobs, but many do not attempt to continue their education in a postsecondary degree program. Similarly, our institutions, with a few exceptions, do not make efforts to convince AE students that they should pursue higher education. In most AE programs, there is no clear path from AE into a degree program. This means that even students who are interested in pursuing a college degree may not know how to do so.

Our community colleges can further include AE providers through offering bridge programs that coordinate academic and occupational instruction by providing basic educational remediation concurrently with, rather than as a prerequisite for, college-level courses. Including Adult Education in an accredited community college’s bridge program could allow our WIOA Title II to provide funding. Another way to fund and expands these programs is through the Ability to Benefit (AtB) (Federal Program), which allows individuals without a secondary diploma to access federal financial aid.

Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College-Madison Campus is one location that is piloting AtB to help AE students access federal funding. As we further integrate our systems through co-location and partnerships, more of our community college campuses will take advantage of this financial aid opportunity. Through this flexibility in federal law, students who are concurrently enrolled in connected AE and eligible postsecondary programs, but do not have a high school diploma or equivalent, could be Pell eligible. The student also has to pass an approved AtB test (e.g., Accuplacer) and complete at least 6 credit hours or 225 clock hours that are applicable toward a degree or certificate offered by the postsecondary institution. Through greater partnerships between our programs and state agencies, we aim to pair more AE programs with our community colleges to scale AtB wider throughout the state.

The AtB-eligible career pathway definition mirrors the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), aligning the career pathway development and implementation underway for WIOA with access to federal financial aid. The previous standard required students to be “concurrently” enrolled in both AE and postsecondary programs, and it did not well define what could be characterized as AE. The new definition provides that the career pathway “enables an individual to attain” a high school diploma or equivalency. This clarifies the intent of AtB to support students without a high school diploma or equivalency in both secondary and postsecondary credential attainment. AtB can serve as a bridge program for AE students to postsecondary.

A similar model to concurrent enrollment between AE and postsecondary has been scaled in math courses by Ivy Tech Community College (ITCC). In 2015, ITCC altered its remedial curriculum to a co-requisite delivery format structured for most of its Math Pathways. They modeled this on the Accelerated Learning Program, which originated at the Community College of Baltimore County and has shown consistent student success with nearly double the pass rates. The co-requisite model melds remediation with “gateway” courses to provide students with the opportunity to earn credit towards their degree rather than completing a remedial course prior to enrolling in the credit-bearing “gateway” course. Similar models throughout the nation have shown that offering co-requisite remediation can potentially double the traditional remedial student success in the “gateway” course.[5] AtB could offer a similar type of co-requisite model.

Given the gap that can exist between AE and other college programs, creating such pathways is critical for elevating skill-deficient adults into sustainable jobs and careers. To implement this approach effectively, community colleges are required to infiltrate labor markets in order to find employment for their students. This requirement forces postsecondary institutions to understand the linkages between the jobs in an industry and the hiring patterns of employers. It also forces colleges to find ways of assuring potential employers that the college’s graduates are ready to work. The foundation-led efforts to create adult career pathways have clear benefits for program graduates but are hard to implement. Colleges that can work with labor markets through such pathways are in a much better position to help their graduates to access high-wage jobs. Moreover, the long-term labor market value of the high school diploma is unclear, and postsecondary credentials are increasingly important for those seeking to attain high-wage jobs. Every step an individual can take towards higher education translates into greater earning potential and a lower likelihood to be in poverty.

Median earnings by educational attainment in IN, 2016

[6]

 

Poverty rate by educational attainment in Indiana, 2016

[7]

Most credentials pay for themselves within only a few years, and college graduates’ lifetime earnings often outweigh those of Hoosiers with only a high school diploma by $1 million or more.[8] The need to better connect all of our Adult Education Programs with postsecondary education opportunities is critical to allow for greater economic mobility for Hoosiers.

Additional lifetime earnings compared to Hoosiers with only a high school diploma

Hoosiers with higher levels of educational attainment have significantly higher levels of job security. Indiana residents with no college filed two-thirds of all unemployment claims over the past ten years. Not only does increasing an individual’s educational attainment impact his/her future career options, but it is also key for Indiana’s economic growth. Those with postsecondary attainment are less likely to need government assistance in the future, but more importantly they become substantial parts of Indiana’s tax revenue. Over the course of a lifetime, a class of Indiana public college graduates contributes at least $13 billion in additional spending and tax revenue to the economy compared to Hoosiers with only a high school diploma.[9]

Throughout Indiana’s Combined Plan, we have reiterated the need to scale access to career coaching to more of our target populations. This target population, especially, will benefit greatly from access to career coaching and the individualized service it provides as they pursue additional education and training opportunities. One way to assist with this is to allow any AE student enrolled in a program located on a community college campus to have access to the support services offered by the college, as they are usually the population most in need of such support. This would include access to the college’s tutoring or career services. Additionally, some of our community college campuses offer childcare on-campus. Allowing our AE students to partake in these services could help several of the burdens our Hoosiers face.

We know that currently about 282,000 SNAP/TANF/Medicaid recipients in Indiana indicated they did not have a high school diploma or equivalent. Because of data silos, we are unable to know the overlap of that population in AE programs or target those not in enrolled with information to earn their high school equivalency. Because those receiving SNAP and TANF, in particular, can utilize E&T funding to augment their training options, helping supplement any tuition, fees, or career counseling costs, it is imperative for us to know how our populations overlap so we can streamline funds and supports to effectively serve them. Until Indiana gets a common intake process in place and a data charter between those agencies on the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet in place, we encourage all AE providers to ask if that individual receives those benefits, since they could be eligible for additional services. Additionally, through greater co-location efforts between our WorkOnes and Division of Family Resource offices, frontline staff can facilitate warm referrals between these programs more easily, helping ensure the individual accesses the necessary supports to assist with upward economic mobility.

Carl D. Perkins (Partner Program): This Combined Plan presents Indiana with the inimitable opportunity to develop strategies to merge siloed programs with similar missions. Increasing the connections between these federal programs will provide rigorous entry points to meaningful postsecondary education and training for both recent high school graduates and adults. Fusing career and technical education into our AE programs allows us to actualize all of our Goals and elevate Hoosiers without a high school diploma or deficient in basic skills towards greater career opportunities. Co-location between state agencies and offices has been reiterated throughout various sections of this Plan. For AE to access Perkins funds, we must have our providers co-locate with K-12 school districts or community college campuses (in addition to school districts and community colleges co-locating with one another). This will allow us to maximize our investments in equipment, facilities, supplies, and instructors. It also builds greater articulation between adult and postsecondary education, as well as secondary and postsecondary education. This is currently occurring in some areas around the state. The Hoosier Hills Career Center in Monroe County, for example, co-locates programs through Adult Education and staff from the WorkOne at the career center. Hoosier Hills has braided in philanthropic dollars from Strada Education Network to expand JAG to the career center, which provides mentoring and dropout prevention services to students at the career center. Local regions can determine how to increase co-location partnerships through varied schedules, hours, and instructors.

Through these partnerships, we can interweave our Perkins funds with our WIOA Title II to help create robust career pathways. Instructionally, AE and Perkins can blend together to craft IETs that serve populations. Adult Education providers can work with schools or community colleges to access Perkins programming to help offset technical training costs, including equipment, supplies, or instructors. Some states that are currently executing this type of braided funding target their funds thusly:

    • Perkins funds can cover accredited training facilities, state-of-the art equipment, and articulated training curriculum.
    • WIOA Title II funds can go towards overload pay for high school instructors, training in CTE core content, field experts, and consumables.

Because WIOA Title II can also fund technical training, local regions must examine how the two funding sources can be coordinated to promote career pathways for all Hoosiers. Braiding our WIOA Title II and Perkins funds can create alignment between our programs of study under Perkins and our career pathways under WIOA. For example, utilizing WIOA Title II funds to have local (high school) teachers provide AE programming vs. contracting with external vocational entities offers several benefits, including cost savings, an already-established knowledge of and relationship with the local community, and that teachers are already trained in various instructional strategies. This can help foster deeper connections between school district leadership, parents, and community members. Replicating programs in both the secondary and adult education space will allow for comparable skills and concepts to be taught to all Hoosiers.

Secondary to postsecondary programs of study and adult career pathways merging into postsecondary pathways (including apprenticeships)

[10]

Coalescing career pathways and programs of study into one concept allows Indiana to serve both adults and high school students through coordinated, aligned, and structured pathways leading towards recognized postsecondary credentials. Additionally, career pathways and programs of study in the same employment sector could share employer partnerships and industry-recognized credentials identified as most relevant for their local economies. They would leverage each other’s industry connections and other strengths, reducing duplication, maximizing funding, and building wide-reaching partnerships. Aligning our Programs of Study to postsecondary education will also further the matriculation between our Adult Education programs and higher education. For example, AE providers could take our established model for our Programs of Study and supplement it with academic remediation, financial literacy, and digital literacy, creating a new type of IET model.

One example of adapting a Program of Study for adult students is through Indiana’s State Earn and Learn model:

Sample State Earn and Learn for adult learners

Through postsecondary Perkins funds, we can expand our work-based learning activities for adult students to include career exploration and engagement experiences. As adult students progress through the high school level curricula in their AE program, our Perkins funds could offer a variety of career exploration and awareness opportunities connected to postsecondary education and employment. Through talent tours, job shadowing, worksite tours, class audits, campus visits and tours, industry speakers, and informational interviews, Perkins can help make connections for adult students to postsecondary education and jobs as they transition to more challenging work. Because our Perkins dollars flow through our community colleges, AE providers would need to work with these institutions to build these experiences into programs. Connecting WIOA Title II to Perkins allows us to make career coaching more experiential for our adult students. As well, through our community colleges, our adult students can learn how they can continue their educational pursuits through financial aid opportunities, like the Pell Grant or credit-bearing Workforce Ready Grants.

Title I – Adults or Youth (Core Program): Individuals who are in need of adult basic education services can be co-enrolled under Title I – Adults to provide any additional wraparound services an individual may need. As Title II, braided with employer or federal financial support, can fund education and training costs, WIOA Adult offers funding for work-based learning, transportation, financial support, and other needed services. In addition to prioritizing wraparound supports, WIOA Adult can also fund individualized assessments to determine eligibility for career interests, skill levels (including literacy, numeracy, and English language proficiency), aptitudes, and abilities (including skill gaps). WorkOne staff may assist with employability skills development (learning skills, communication skills, interviewing skills, punctuality, personal maintenance skills, and professional conduct) to prepare for employment or training. Either WIOA Adult or Wagner-Peyser can help fund connections for AE students to career fairs and employment opportunities within the local, county, and state geography. WIOA Adult can fund any follow-up services, such as individualized counseling regarding the work place, how to successfully navigate the new environment, or any other additional services customized for the constituent.

 

As discussed in the Low-Income Adult section, many out-of-school youth may also be co-enrolled into Adult Education to receive remedial support. While WIOA Title II can help with academic remediation (and occupational training depending on the program) and assisting out-of-school youth earn an HSE, WIOA Youth, like WIOA Adult, can help with wraparound supports, as well as serve as a gap filler for educational training costs and wraparounds supports. Some services that can be prioritized for a co-enrolled individual include:

  1. Paid and unpaid work experiences;
  2. Leadership development opportunities;
  3. Supportive services;
  4. Mentoring;
  5. Follow-up services; and
  6. Comprehensive guidance and counseling.

Title III – Wagner-Peyser (Core Program): Wagner-Peyser could supplement AE and Perkins funding towards career coaching (either in-person or virtually) and exploration activities. Local Boards could pioneer virtual chatting through a chatbox feature with a career coach as a way to increase accessibility to WorkOnes. Wagner-Peyser staff or funding could also help offer information to adult students regarding current labor market trends and job availability, future employment needs in sectors and industries, and connections to employers and employer associations where opportunities may exist. Through our Wagner-Peyser funds, we can ensure our joint career pathways/programs of study are continually adapting to changes in our economy, technology, and workforce.

Potential Eligibility: Additional programs and services a Hoosier may receive depending on individual circumstances. This section includes Core and Partner Program Activities,Activities outside the Plan,andIndividual Servicesfor adults in this target population.

SNAP and TANF (Partner Programs): Adults enrolled under WIOA Title II may also be recipients of SNAP or TANF; these populations might have a great deal of overlap. SNAP E&T may supplement funding for tuition and fees, career coaching, and administrative expenses for SNAP participants. TANF, however, can help provide funding for any wraparound services an individual may require. TANF can offset the costs of childcare support, transportation, and housing. As well, using SNAP 50/50 to match any non-federal funds can also contribute funding towards participants’ direct expenses. For those receiving SNAP and TANF and needing support in academic remediation, earning an HSE, or English language acquisition, E&T funding could support co-enrollment in Adult Education programs, supplementing any programmatic or career counseling costs. Because educational attainment is strongly correlated with economic mobility, streamlining funds and supports to effectively serve our SNAP and TANF recipients will expedite career and economic advancement. While Indiana establishes a common intake process, we will cross-train those administering SNAP and TANF – from the state to local level – to increase warm referrals to our WorkOnes for career services

Title IV – Vocational Rehabilitation (Core Program): Vocational Rehabilitation may serve as a funding source for those individuals with a disability and that need help with assistive technology services. Because a learning disability may have contributed to the factors causing a student to drop out of high school or have a deficiency in basic skills, there may be a significant overlap between Hoosiers seeking AE services and needing accommodations. Furthering our existing coordination between our Adult Education providers and Vocational Rehabilitation services will help ensure our AE students receive any needed assistive technologies, personal and vocational adjustment services, rehabilitation technology, and adaptive aids and devices. Vocational Rehabilitation can also assist funding career counseling and exploration activities, serving as a gap filler to support these activities for eligible adult students.

Workforce Diploma Reimbursement Program (State Program): The Workforce Diploma Reimbursement Program offers an opportunity for eligible program providers to deliver Hoosiers over the age of twenty-two with outcomes-driven instruction within the adult education space. Through offerings, such as employability skills, career pathways, coursework, and certifications, which lead to a workforce diploma, eligible program providers will afford life-changing opportunities to those seeking to better their lives. The services offered to Hoosiers under this program include developing employability skills and career and technical education skills, obtaining a high school diploma, providing remedial coursework in literacy and numeracy; preparing for industry-recognized credentials, and offering career placement services. This is a new program in Indiana, and we, currently, have one provider – Graduation Alliance.

State Earn and Learns (State Program): State Earn and Learns is a state-recognized apprenticeship program. Adult Education can partner with our SEALs to provide additional funding and academic supports for the program. It offers individuals a different kind of IET to remediate academic skills, obtain technical knowledge, and gain a quality work experience and income throughout the process. This blends public and private dollars to get an individual the necessary basic academic skills and technical training for career advancement and earning an HSE. Enrollment in this program would also be contingent upon an individual’s interests, since these are also focused in Indiana’s priority sectors,

The three subgroups found within those without a high school diploma or who have basic skill deficiencies – English Learners, immigrants, and refugees – share similar challenges and requirements in order to access higher wages and middle-skill jobs. English Learners (ELs) are sometimes also known as Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals. A majority of these individuals come from homes that do not speak or use English as their primary language. In most cases, these individuals require specialized, modified, instruction for their English language and other academic courses potentially in their native language. English language acquisition is a key part of WIOA Title II, targeting those needing assistance in their proficiency and fluency in English. ELs, immigrants, and refugees tend to face similar language barriers constraining them towards low-skill and low-wage jobs, therefore allowing Indiana to take a broader approach to these subgroups. Migrant/Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFWs) may also intersect with this target population, as they often require assistance with English language acquisition. MSFWs may differ from other ELs due to their experiences with housing instability and long periods of unemployment based on the nature of their work.

Our most commonly spoken languages beyond English include: Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Burmese, and Vietnamese.[11] Of those seeking out Adult Education programs, in 2019, 5,407 were English Learners. A high level of ELs are enrolled in AE had a high school diploma (3,224 or 60%) or a college degree (1,444 with a college degree 28%). Because so many of our ELs with secondary or postsecondary credential seek Adult Education, Indiana will utilize this talent pipeline to its full potential. As a step to address this issue, Indiana was recently selected for the World Education Services Skilled Immigrant Integration Program (SIIP) (Private Program). The target population for this program are immigrants residing in the Indianapolis Metro area who have credentials from their countries, but not in the US. This program will provide immigrants in the central Indiana region with customized training, coaching, and technical assistance to advance Indiana’s skilled immigrant integration efforts. Indiana’s application focus on Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education funding, which we will use to create cross-disciplinary education programs for skilled immigrants to get them working in their area of expertise. The other area of focus is on addressing the barriers to English language learning for the immigrant population of Indianapolis. Indiana will join a community of practice of states and local multisector networks to develop career pathways resources, employer engagement strategies, and data and research to better leverage this source of talent in our state.

As the need for multilingual employees grows amongst Indiana’s businesses, these individuals possess a linguistic fluency, as well as cultural competency, that will be an asset to them in their careers. While it is important for these students to become proficient in English, the dichotomy is that fluency in other languages will be equally beneficial to these students in the long-term. These individuals present a talent pipeline to fill a growing economic need.

WorkOnes offer non-native English speakers access to interpreter services through a contracted language interpretation provider. The contract allows for in-person interpretation of the primary languages spoken in Indiana. We also offer phone interpretation services for additional languages not provided for by in-person interpretation. The required “Equal Opportunity is the Law” notice (the EO Notice) is available in both English and Spanish at all of our WorkOnes. Indiana’s Unemployment Insurance handbook is also now available in Spanish. Additional EL services are provided at the regional level, such as bilingual staff, hand‐held translators, and English as a Second Language classes (offered through Title II).

Immigrants are represented in jobs at all wage and skill levels, though they are overrepresented in industries with either low or high education requirements due to the educational levels of immigrants being concentrated at either the higher and lower ends of the education spectrum.. Nearly one-third of immigrants age 25 and older in the US lacked a high school diploma or equivalent, about 19% had some college or a two-year degree, and about 29% had a college degree or higher. This wide range of educational attainment for immigrants translates clearly into job opportunities – with those immigrants with higher levels of education obtaining the higher paid and skilled positions, and vice versa for those on the low levels. The national statistics for immigrant labor participation illustrates this growing gap within the immigrant community. Immigrants comprise 16% of our national workforce, they are almost 50% of the workers in the service of private households, and over 30% of the labor force in the accommodation or lodging sector. Immigrants are 20 to 25% of the workers in the construction, agriculture, food services, and warehousing industries. 23% of immigrant workers are in the IT and high-tech manufacturing industries.[12]

Immigrant-serving and workforce organizations, therefore, must be positioned to provide a pipeline of skills and economic opportunity for immigrants and refugees, given the diversity of backgrounds. A well-rounded package of services include education, occupational training, wraparound supports, quality employment, and empowerment. Acclimating to American society and culture involves linguistic, economic, and civic education components. Our Adult Education providers should provide these as overlapping services that reinforce one another through a contextualized educational approach, rather than as segmented subject areas. For example, a version of contextualized education that offers English language instruction while delivering vocational training would speed students’ progress through both programs. Best practices for this target population combine English language practice with vocational training and basic‐plus reading and numeracy skills. It is similar to the IET model used for AE students, but with more emphasis on language fluency and acquisition.

Other studies have noted that while English language instruction is important, that cannot be the sole focus of workforce development opportunities.[13] These subgroup populations also benefit from access to career training opportunities. In addition to language and technical training, occupational and safety training has emerged as an important factor for immigrants and refugees to find success in the labor market. Occupational and safety training is especially key to addressing job retention and other job-quality issues for immigrants in lower-wage and lower-skilled jobs. Any additional efforts or programming around job quality can help increase immigrants’ options, because a large proportion of this population is overrepresented in industries that pay low wages and often have low job quality standards.

Bridge programs with integrated instruction of English language and technical skills offers immigrants the opportunity to improve language skills while obtaining useful career and technical skills and accessing job-readiness supports. This type of interdisciplinary approach to adult education for immigrants and English Learners currently occurs with the Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education (IELCE) program under WIOA Title II. This program assists immigrants with preparation for citizenship and full participation in the civic life of their community. Through partnerships with community colleges and employers, we can apply this interdisciplinary instructional model to workforce development. We want to encourage more of our AE providers to offer this type of instructional approach for English Learners, immigrants, and refugees to allow these individuals to acquire English, learn our culture, and gain employable skills.

For programs serving this target population, partnerships with unions and worker centers can be instrumental in providing education and training services to immigrants. Day laborer centers, also known as worker centers, represent a potentially powerful engine for supporting immigrant skill building. Connecting our worker centers with our local community colleges for technical training, with AE providing the language acquisition support, could develop robust programs for immigrant workers that can accommodate the erratic schedules and family responsibilities of their participants, while also ensuring that local employment opportunities for the relevant occupations actually exist. Similarly, partnerships with trade organizations and unions could open immense opportunities for long-term economic stability for this population. These partnerships could help working immigrants connect to and succeed in work and training through a pre-apprenticeship or on-the-job training model that is directly tied to a registered apprenticeship. Furthering options for registered apprenticeships for immigrant workers offers employment during training and often a guaranteed quality job at the end.

Because of the diversity within this target population, an IET may not be the best fit for all immigrants, such as those already possessing postsecondary credentials. In some instances, the individual may be at the appropriate academic levels in the areas of math and science, but simply need assistance navigating and understanding a new language. This population, perhaps more so than others, needs their instructions and programs differentiated to them based on their ability and long-term goals. Intentionality of instruction and programming is one of the most critical factors to consider when serving immigrants. Research shows that organizations that intentionally differentiate their programs to address the needs of immigrants were more successful in helping this subgroup connect to training and jobs than those organizations that serve immigrants in the same manner as other populations.[14]

For WorkOnes to focus on intentionality, they must examine how they recruit and serve clients who are not born in the United States. Key considerations include language, networking, cultural awareness, and status issues, as well as recognizing that this subgroup is incredibly diverse in terms of culture, linguistics, educational attainment, and experiences. Intentionality could also apply to program outreach and recruitment methods. Those programs in regions with many immigrants should consider involving immigrant groups and organizations. Partnering with immigrant organizations can help provide individuals with wraparound supports, such as childcare and transportation, which may be critical to successfully completing an AE program. One example of this type of partnership operates out the South Bend, Indiana. Students who attend the South Bend Community School Corporation’s Adult Education program may access a family literacy program at The Beacon, a non-profit community organization serving the west side of the city. The Adult Education program includes HSE instruction, English language learning, and a trade’s certification, while providing an educational daycare for children and free transportation to and from classes at The Beacon using community partners. The Beacon is a shared space community center and houses more than 15 partner organizations that offer weekly academic, recreational, or mentoring programs to the community.

In order to receive WIOA Title II services, individuals do not need to present proof of immigration status or have employment authorization. WIOA Title II is silent on the question of participants’ immigration status and does not require that participants be legally work authorized. To access any WIOA Title I services, individuals must be meet certain residency requirements.[15] Refugees, in particular, are able to receive both Titles I and II services for employment and training opportunities and wraparound supports. Partnering with refugee resettlement groups can address the “brain waste” that can exist within refugee communities. “Brain waste” is defined as unemployment or underemployment in jobs significantly below the education and skill levels of immigrants and refugees.[16] Additionally, refugees can be on HIP as their health insurance plan. Medicaid offices work with local refugee organizations to ensure access to this critical supportive service. Furthering partnerships between our WorkOnes and these communities can help address both current workforce needs and provide this subgroup with more opportunities for middle-skills jobs.

One strategy we intend to employ to help refugees in Indiana access more services is to classify them as WIOA Dislocated Worker. Though refugees are legally able to access WIOA Title I services, they may not have the usual documentation needed to qualify. As a way to increase their opportunities to additional employment and training services, we intend on funding any service for refugees through our WIOA Dislocated Worker stream. Refugees who do not have the usual documentation (a letter signifying a layoff) for enrollment as a dislocated worker can be assigned to a career coach to provide a registrant statement documenting the date of dislocation and reasons for the lack of the usual documentation. Through this fund, these individuals can obtain greater employment and training opportunities, as well as any wraparound support they may need to find quality employment. This will also help address some of the burden on our WIOA Adult funds, fill our in-demand jobs in more skilled trades, and leverage a less traditional talent pipeline to spur Indiana’s economy.

Scaling Promising Practices: Below we highlight promising practices that we hope to see scaled and replicated to address the unique barriers and challenges of this target population. Our local regions can implement these practices through strategic use of WIOA funds, philanthropic or community foundation dollars, or social impact bonds. Where applicable, local Boards or community organizations can coordinate with state agencies to apply for SNAP 50/50 FNS, which will serve as a 50% federal match for any state or philanthropic funding dedicated to SNAP recipients receiving Employment and Training services. These practices are Activities outside the Plan. While not a comprehensive list, the practices showcase innovative approaches to assisting our Hoosiers without a high school diploma and/or deficient in basic skills in surmounting their unique circumstances.

Cook Medical (Employer Program): The ‘My Cook Pathway’ offers current or future employees at Cook who successfully complete the pre-employment screening process the opportunity to earn their Indiana High School Equivalency Diploma while working at Cook part time. Employees work 28 hours a week and take classes 12 hours a week to prepare for the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC). The education component includes attending seven weeks of prep classes given by the Broadview Learning Center and located at Ivy Tech Community College. When someone passes the TASC and demonstrates success in the part-time role, s/he will be offered a full-time position at Cook Medical. The full-time positions could be in production, quality control, packaging, or warehouse. Participation in the program is free for the individual plus earning an income, thus alleviating the education and life expenses tug-of-war that prevents individuals from pursuing educational opportunities. Cook has also built in a career pathway for individuals to advance to higher levels of employment.

The Excel Center (State and Philanthropic Program): The Excel Center, operated by Goodwill Education Initiatives, Inc., allows students to learn at their own pace and complete their educational requirements throughout the year. It has grown to 15 schools in central and southern Indiana. The Excel Center offers a high school diploma, not a high school equivalency. Students are required to meet each prerequisite necessary to earn a high school diploma. It offers students an accelerated eight-week term to teach language arts, mathematics, science and social studies to students through five terms per calendar year. Classes are offered during both day and evening hours Monday through Thursday. Supportive services offered at each campus include transportation, childcare, and other life necessities. As this is both state and philanthropically funded, a WorkOne could refer an out-of-school youth or adult student to the Excel Center for education and training. WIOA Youth funds could go to the student to help with additional wraparound supports. If the individual is also a SNAP recipient, SNAP E&T funds or SNAP 50/50 could also be used by the Excel Center to supplement or fill any gaps in services.

Christel House Adult Education (State and Philanthropic Program): Christel House DORS South is another option for those seeking adult education. Christel House DORS South provides AE classes and course work to those who understand the necessity of earning a high school distinction. Through offering high school course work, as well as occupational trainings, Christel House DORS South provides the opportunities required for individuals to take the next step along his or her educational and career journey. In addition to occupational trainings, 100% of graduating seniors leave with dual credits, making them not only employable, but also have a connection to future postsecondary education. It is a tuition free high school for adults 18 and older who wish to attain their high school diploma. Christel House college and careers coordinators support alumni students for up to five years after graduation to help support them in their transition to training programs, college, workforce or apprenticeships. They have multiple locations throughout the city of Indianapolis. Similar to the Excel Center, WIOA and/or SNAP E&T funds could be provided to this school to offer these services to out-of-school youth.

Gary Middle College Adult Education (State and Philanthropic Program): Gary Middle College is an accelerated adult education program where students can earn a CORE 40 high school diploma from the State of Indiana. Students are able to transfer previously earned credits and test scores from past high schools and will complete the remaining credit requirements at Gary Middle College prior to graduation. Similar to the Excel Center and Christel House DORS, WIOA and/or SNAP E&T funds could be provided to this school to offer these services to out-of-school youth. Each student is required to attend classes four hours a day, but, with a flexible schedule, they can choose which time they will attend. This allows students to fit in life responsibilities, such as work and home life, while working towards their betterment.

RecycleForce (Employer Program): RecycleForce is a social enterprise delivering comprehensive recycling services for e-waste while supporting workforce training, development, and job placement for ex-offenders transitioning back to society. RecycleForce helps ex-offenders break down the barriers to employment by providing transitional jobs for up to six months, as well as comprehensive services designed to get their lives back on track. The RecycleForce model offers program participants an integrated focus on jobs skills, character development, and personal counseling. In partnership with Warren Township in central Indiana, current employees are offered the opportunity to obtain employability and basic academic skills, as well as an HSE, if needed, through the Warren Adult Education program. RecycleForce compensates employees for time spent in class in pursuit of their HSE. Once the employees have met their goals, a third partner, Keys to Work, helps the clients to find permanent employment.

[1] Indiana Business Research Center, 2017. Adults Age 18 to 64 without a High School Diploma or HSE, 2017.

[2] INContext, 2018. A closer look at Hoosiers with no high school diploma.

[3] Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Adult Education Infographic.

[4] Doll et al., 2013. Understanding Why Students Drop Out of High School, According to Their Own Reports: Are They Pushed or Pulled, or Do They Fall Out? A Comparative Analysis of Seven Nationally Representative Studies.

[5] Ivy Tech Community College, 2013. Ivy Tech Community College Announces Math Pathways Project.

[6] INContext, 2018. A closer look at Hoosiers with no high school diploma.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 2018. College Return on Investment Report 2018.

[9] The data model assumes that high school graduates begin earning at age 18 and that college students do not work while in school. In reality, about 32% of full-time students and 72% of part-time students are employed while in college. Similarly, not all high school graduates are fully employed or self-supporting at age 18. The projections are based on the “net” cost of college after financial aid. For students who complete on time, the average cost after financial aid to attend a four-year Indiana public college is about $11,500 per year, and the net cost to attend a two-year public college is about $7,300. The model also assumes that students incur average levels of student debt, that interest does not start accruing until after graduation, and that loans are paid off at average interest rates over a ten year period. About 2/3 of Hoosiers students rely on student loans to finance their education. On average, students at four-year Indiana public colleges accumulate about $27,000 in loans (excluding interest), compared to about $17,000 for students who attend two-year public colleges.

[10] U.S. Department of Education Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, December 2015. Advancing Career and Technical Education in State and Local Career Pathways Systems.

[11] Indiana Public Media, February 2016. Indiana is Educating More English Language Learners.

[12] The Aspen Institute, 2016. Improving Immigrant Access to Workforce Services: Partnerships, Practices & Policies.

[13] McHugh and Challinor, 2011. Improving Immigrants’ Employment Prospects through Work-Focused Language Instruction; and Burt and Mathews-Aydinli, 2007. Workplace Instruction and Workforce Preparation for Adult Immigrants.

[14] The Aspen Institute, 2016. Improving Immigrant Access to Workforce Services: Partnerships, Practices & Policies.

[15] Federal policy guidance affirms that immigrants who are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are eligible for WIOA Title I service.

[16] Migration Policy Institute. Brain Waste & Credential Recognition.