Secretary Reggie Bicha announces Transitional Jobs Pilot Program
Stimulating Funds for Kids
their children do better. Their families do better. Everyone in the household does better on virtually every measure. So it is part of our
core mission in the department to make sure that families are economically stable. And we think the best way for most families is to do
that through work.”
      According to Bicha, there are two target groups for the program. The first is foster children who must leave the foster care system
when they are 18 years old. For many of them, they are thrown out into the world to fend for themselves. “These are mostly kids who
are aging out of foster care, kids who are looking for their first job, but maybe don’t have a work history and don’t have work skills,”
Bicha said. “Over the past several years, we have tripled the number of children who have aged out of foster care who have access to
virtually full-ride scholarships to continue their education beyond high school. We’ve tripled the number to get more children graduating
from high school, leaving foster care and continuing their education beyond high school. Now with the Transitional Jobs Pilot Program
we’ll be able to provide transitional work support, a real paying job and help them develop work skills that help them transition to
work.”
      The other target group is non-custodial parents. “Non-custodial parents obviously don’t have the primary custody or primary
placement of their children, but still are parents,” Bicha said. “They are paying child support. They have to have a house and a good
place to live when their kids do come to visit. The non-custodial parents are no longer eligible for unemployment compensation. If you’
re unemployment compensation has run out, this is an opportunity for those parents to get a job. It’s a real job with a real paycheck that
participants will be able to use to pay their bills, to pay their rent, to pay their child support, to pay their gas in order to get to work and
other supports that help them be successful.”
      The participants in Transitional Jobs will be placed in private sector jobs that will be fully subsidized for up to six months. “The
positions guarantee at least a minimum wage income for the time that people are in the program,” Bicha said. “We know that some
employers may put additional dollars on the table or additional benefits in some cases. But at least everyone in the program will be
earning minimum wage.
      It will be up to the employer in the program what kind of benefits they offer. But we know a lot of the individuals will qualify for
Badger Care Plus.”
While the private sector employers do not have to commit to hiring the individual when the subsidy ends, Bicha is confident that some
of the employees will be retained.
      “We talked to a lot of employers across the state who tell me that it is their goal to hire them,” Bicha said. “This is a good thing for
employers who think they could use a staff person, but they aren’t sure if they want to take the risk. They can join with us and create a
job. We’ll offer them the subsidized wage for up to six months. They take a risk to help the employee get the job skills. They are
providing the employee with real work. The employer can see over a six month period whether or not it is helping their business and
can they sustain it beyond the subsidy. We hear from a lot of employers that they will take that chance. They find that it actually does
help their business and they will keep the individuals on their transitional jobs. But even if they don’t, we know that other businesses
as this economy begins to stabilize and we are starting to slowly see economic growth and we are starting — not as quickly as we
would all like — jobs created. As that continues to move forward, we want this pilot program to give people jobs, give them skills,
give them training and give them a work history. As those private sector jobs become available, we want to then transition them off of
the Transitional Jobs Pilot Program into those unsubsidized employment opportunities.”
      As a stimulus-funded program, the Transitional Jobs Pilot Program is slated to end when the stimulus funds run out in two years.
Bicha hopes the value of the program in strengthening the economic safety-net for children in Wisconsin will keep the program going
through state or federal funding.
      “What we’re trying to do with this demonstration project is not only to get the $34 million to our economy and get people working,
but also demonstrate its effectiveness,” Bicha said. “Then it will be up to the legislature and a new governor a couple of years from
now to determine the effectiveness and decide whether or not they want to continue the transitional jobs program in some form down
the road.
      I’ll defer to President Obama and Congress to pass another stimulus package. We certainly could use the resources in Wisconsin.
It’s going to be a very tough budget coming up the next couple of years. If Congress could provide some additional support to states, it
would be very, very helpful to Wisconsin.”
      The dignity of many Wisconsin workers and the welfare of many of Wisconsin’s children may depend on it.
By Jonathan Gramling

      During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration was
created by the Roosevelt Administration to put millions of Americans back
to work in public sector jobs. In a modern day twist to that program, the
Obama Administration is providing $34 million in stimulus funds to put
4,000 Wisconsinites back to work or allow them to enter the labor force for
the first time in private sector jobs.
      Through that funding, the Wis. Dept. of Children and Families (DCF) will
be implementing the Transitional Jobs Pilot Program in partnership with 17
organizations across Wisconsin. In Dane County, the partner is the
Workforce Development Board, which will receive $2.8 million to work with
89 employers who will create 125 jobs in Dane and surrounding counties.
I        n the Doyle Administration’s view, economic supports — ideally
through work — lead to stable families and healthy children. “Governor
Doyle said a number of times and I’ll steal the line from him because it is
perfect,” said DCF Secretary Reggie Bicha. “‘The best social program is a
good paying job.’ When families are working and have a viable income,
Wisc. Dept. of Children and Families Secretary Reggie
Bicha recently announced a $34 million jobs program for
adult foster kids and non-custodial parents.