The Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board: To receive contract to help FoodShare participants


The Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board (SWWDB) has received notice from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) of its intent to contract with SWWDB to coordinate and administer FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) services in Southwest Wisconsin. FSET services help FoodShare recipients gain the skills, training and experience necessary to improve to employment prospects and reduce reliance on FoodShare [sometimes referred to as food stamps] benefits. Information provided by DHS during the proposal process indicate the estimated contract could exceed $3.4 million for the twenty-one month period beginning January 1, 2015.

FSET is a free employment and training program designed to provide FoodShare recipients assistance in improving employment opportunities. As the administrator of Workforce Investment Act services, SWWDB sees a strong organizational alignment in operating an additional employment and training program. According to Rhonda Suda, SWWDB Chief Executive Officer, “Drawing upon fourteen plus years of experience and positive outcomes, the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board provides workforce solutions to employers by helping job seekers remove employment barriers through skill-upgrading, retraining and other individualized solutions. Partnering with DHS and county economic support operations to provide FSET services opens a new chapter for SWWDB, and our experience as a workforce development leader predicts truly positive outcomes.”

While the FSET program is available to all FoodShare recipients, on January 1, 2015, new work requirements will apply to able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD), and participation in FSET will provide a primary way for them to meet the mandatory work requirements necessary to maintain eligibility for FoodShare.

The state anticipates FSET participation will increase due to the new requirements. It is anticipated that approximately 2,900 ABAWD FoodShare participants will be referred to the FSET program in 2015, with about half [1,450] enrolling in FSET. A majority of those [about 75 percent] will be in Rock County. The remainder will enroll in Grant, Green, Iowa, Lafayette or Richland Counties.

SWWDB will assess participants, provide program orientations, career planning, and offer other assistance in areas such as job search, training, work placement, and education. Follow-up and support assistance will also be provided to ensure job retention and advancement.