Actions by State Leaders Threaten to Close Dane County Job Center
May 23, 2012
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
15 Year Life-Line for Families in Need of Employment Resources, Emergency Assistance, Could Close Under New Proposed State Model
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi today called for the immediate suspension of plans by Governor Walker’s administration that could result in the closure of the Dane County Job Center, a local life-line that connects families who have fallen victim to the Great Recession with employment opportunities and emergency assistance.
The state is taking steps that would remove the Wisconsin Works (W-2) services, effectively and efficiently run by the county for 15 years, and place the program up for grabs for an unknown private entity to administer.
“These actions by the state are a severe and direct blow to workforce development in Dane County and across the state of Wisconsin,” said Parisi. “I urge our state leaders to immediately suspend their plans and work with those who know how to best administer this program – county government – to find a better solution.”
In 2011 the Job Center helped 1,537 Dane County residents enter the Wisconsin Works (W-2) program and find a path to meaningful employment. Through it’s administration of W-2, the Dane County Job Center also provides immediate, emergency resources to families who found themselves homeless or under threat of homelessness, victims of fire, natural disasters, or energy crisis. The Job Center provided this assistance to 881 Dane County families in 2011 alone.
“The Dane County Job Center is a one-stop shop for those looking for work, wanting to improve their job skills, and make ends meet,” Parisi said. “If the goal right now is economic recovery and helping families get back on their feet, the last thing our state officials should be pushing is a policy that could very well close the Dane County Job Center.”
The state is quickly advancing changes to who administers W-2, that may very well result in these job placement and emergency assistance services being run by entities not familiar with local resources and lacking established partnerships with community agencies.
It would also end the one-stop-shop operation in Dane County and across the state that provides families with access to all of the programs they may need for employment, food assistance, job fair opportunities, and more.
“The state is creating an uncertain future for moms and dads in Dane County,” said Dane County Human Services Director Lynn Green. “Under the state’s plans, these families will have no way of knowing when they can access help, or how often. If they are in an emergency, they will be forced to travel by bus to multiple locations to get assistance.”
The state is currently accepting bids from organizations that wish to run the W-2 program in Wisconsin. Both the aggressive deadline for bid proposals and the conditions contained within the state’s bid request make it impossible for the counties that are most knowledgeable and experienced in providing quality services to compete for the contract.
In the coming weeks the county will continue to work with other concerned counties and organizations in an effort to persuade the state to postpone their actions.
“We remain hopeful that the state will hear our concerns and that together, we can work on a solution that better serves families in Dane County and Wisconsin,” said Parisi.
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