Many, if not most, people employed by social enterprises are dependent on government benefit programs to support them as they transition back into the workforce. One of the most common of these programs is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides monthly food benefits to assist low-income individuals in purchasing the food they need. A part of this program is SNAP Employment and Training that helps SNAP participants gain skills, training, or work experience to increase their ability to obtain regular employment that leads to economic self-sufficiency. Each state has its own program; in California it is called the CalFresh Employment and Training Program (CFET).
There is a great alignment between the goals of CFET and the work that employment social enterprises do. However, social enterprises were not specifically named in the CFET county or state plans, which means that participants were not necessarily being directed towards social enterprises as part of their employment and training activities.
In an attempt to remedy this, REDF co-sponsored a bill alongside the Western Center on Law & Poverty called the “Transitional Jobs Support Act” (Assembly Bill 415). Its purpose is to encourage a greater partnership between CFET and employment social enterprises. This bill:
- Defines employment social enterprise as a social purpose corporation that earns more than half its revenue by providing services or making goods that provide on-the-job and life skills training to participants who face multiple barriers to employment.
- Clarifies that the Department of Social Services:
- May contract directly with employment social enterprises or designated intermediary to support the CFET program services.
- Would be required to issue instructions to County Human Services Agencies for contracting with employment social enterprises in a local CFET, if it does not contract directly with employment social enterprises.
A direct collaboration between CFET and employment social enterprises will be helpful to working individuals and families who are still poor and could benefit from the extra support of the programs, resulting in holistic job readiness. It is in California’s interest to collaborate with employment social enterprises that provide jobs and training for thousands of people facing such barriers. Additionally, this helps California to meet its federal SNAP work participation rate goals by increasing the number of families in the programs that are employed.
Governor Brown signed AB 415 on September 28th, 2017. Here is the official California code that will be put into law. What does this mean for social enterprises?
- The work the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is already doing to expand the CalFresh Employment & Training (CFET) program will be bolstered with our bill, in addition to lifting up social enterprises as an employment and training provider.
- Employment social enterprises are legally defined and we can now refer to this definition in any future legislation.